When all hope and expectation to see the national cricket team regaining a competitive edge seemed to have vanished, Steve Mangongo and his team pulled off one of the big surprises by beating the then world number one ranked side, Australia.
Candid Comment with Kevin Mapasure
Odds were stacked against them. with serious doubts about Mangongo’s capacity as a coach and Elton Chigumbura’s captaincy encountering resistance, a few retained a sliver of hope the team could stand toe-to-toe with the world’s best.
When news filtered through that Zimbabwe would host Australia and South Africa for a triangular series, the feeling was that the event was going to be about the tourists, with the hosts only benefiting from accruing financial rewards.
Yet somehow the team, a subject of acute scorn and scrutiny, found it within themselves to put their doubters to shame and prove they could as well play the game.
Zimbabwe chose the high platform to make their statement and it couldn’t have been louder against the imperious Australians, lavished with one of the best batsmen, Michael Clarke and the destructive Mitchell Johnson.
Going into this series, the question was whether Mangongo was the right candidate to rescue the team which had plunged into the depths of despair with defeats to Hong Kong and Afghanistan.
His appointment had been met with indignation in certain quarters, but now misgivings have been assuaged.
Mangongo and his team might have won themselves some breathing space after that important victory and hopefully they will be accorded the respect the likes of Bangladesh enjoy.
By defeating Australia, they possibly won a few more sponsors despite the tough economic environment and the anticipation is that they can fill up more seats the next time they run out at Harare or Queens Sports Club.
The team needs more support to continue with their climb up. while they want their financial fortunes to improve, they also need more cricket.
They will be travelling to Bangladesh in October to play three Tests and five ODIs and it’s another opportunity to show they deserve more cricket against the big guns.
Of late, tours were being cancelled at a frightening frequency which sometimes rendered the team idle for many months if not a full year.
The team has shown that if they are allowed to play regularly, they can be an important factor in world of cricket.
Since this triangular series started, the team improved with each game. they showed that while they possess the skills, it is the games they lack.
With tours coming in dribs and drabs, the argument has been that some nations see a trip to Zimbabwe as a waste of time as the matches are often one-sided.
But with that one favourable result and other performances in this series, they have communicated to the world that coming to Zimbabwe is not a waste of time.
For Zimbabwe cricket to prosper financially, they still need to host England and India.