As long as the moneyed diamond miners or big companies continue to ignore the beloved game of cricket, the national team will continue to make the multitudes who support it suffer.
Independent Sport View with Kevin Mapasure
The West Indies tour has proved to be yet another sob story with the team losing every match in every format, just like they did in New Zealand last year.
The team’s travel troubles are well known; Zimbabwe Cricket tried to cure them by hiring a psychologist ahead of the West Indies tour.
But there are many other deficiencies in this team including lack of character, belief, talent (this is debatable), inadequate preparation and lack of technique, among others.
Yet the fundamental deficiency which is lack of sound financial support often escapes unnoticed.
Lack of experience and exposure have also dominated debate as fans grapple with the Caribbean debacle.
The theory that Zimbabwean players are not good enough has been developing in the last 12 months after the New Zealand tour and the T-20 World Cup, but it should be shattered when the team hosts Bangladesh for two Tests, three One-Day-Internationals and two T-20s in two weeks’ time.
Many fans were aghast at the innings defeat against New Zealand, the manner in which Zimbabwe failed with the bat in all four innings of the two Tests where they were bowled out for 211 and 107 in the first Test before scoring 175 and 141 in innings and 65-run defeat in the second against the West Indies.
But while condemnation is not entirely misplaced, it is prudent to examine whether the conditions are set for success.
Some have laid blame on the technical team but we can hire Duncan Fletcher who has just led India to a Test whitewash defeat of Australia but as long as the financial streams continue to trickle as they do, Zimbabwe will find it hard to compete in the premier format.
While at pouring all the vitriol and vulgarities over the latest setback, it is easy to forget that Zimbabwe has not won too many Tests since 1992.
They won just two before Bangladesh’s arrival on the Test scene in 2000 there is only one other victory against a team which is not the Tigers since then.
This is not to justify the defeats in the West Indies but to serve as a reminder that what is happening now has is not entirely a new phenomenon.
What happened to Zimbabwe particularly in the Tests is somewhat similar to the recent fate Australia suffered in India, Pakistan in South Africa, Bangladesh in Sri Lanka and number two ranked England lucky to escape with draws in number eight ranked New Zealand.
To me these results make clear how it has become difficult to beat home teams especially in the premier format. True the batting needs to improve especially at playing spin, and both Masakadza and Brendan taylor need to improve but what Zimbabwe needs is a huge financial investment added to patience and support from the fans too.
It’s asking for too much really to expect the Test team idle for 13 months to come back and pull off a win in the West Indies against a team that had been oiling all the while considering too that Zimbabwe is already short of experience.
Some have averred that this current crop has been given enough time to mature and should be winning, but I beg to differ and so do statistics.
The most experienced player in the team Raymond Price has played 22 Tests compare that to Shivnarine Chanderpaul who has played 146 or Chris Gayle who has 95 compared to Hamilton Masakadza on 21.
Diamond companies invest millions in football, a worthy cause, but why not also invest half that into a game with some much potential to bring glory and help create employment?
Cricket should be a career option and Zimbabwe needs to plug the holes allowing escape of vast amounts of talent such as Gary Balance to mention the most painful example.
ZC alone can only do so much and it will require financially strong entities like diamond companies to help satisfy the game’s huge demands. Success will not come before investment. No not with this game, and until it comes Zimbabwe will always field irritating Test status questions.
One thing for sure is we will see a different team when Zimbabwe hosts Bangladesh early next month, the Tigers are not the West Indies especially with Brendan Taylor leading out his men on home soil they just cannot fail to thrill their fans.
Many do not realise Zimbabwe does play well at home, though, New Zealand in Bulawayo after Pakistan at the same venue are both clear testimony despite not winning. It is only when they travel that they really struggle and need urgent help, especially from Mbada and Marange to mention but two candidates.
Experts have sung in unison that the team can only cure this disease by playing more outside Zimbabwe in different conditions against different and more challenging players.
Zim “A” has been out of business for a long time. All debutantes on this tour just did not have enough time in the second team.
It is no coincidence that when Zimbabwe embarked on a three two month training camp before they played Australia A in four day matches before the triangular with South Africa, the national team fared better in 2011 where they beat Bangladesh in the Test series before completing well against both New Zealand and Pakistan.
This team only needs some money and a bit more time then they can be judged after.