FOR what appears to be ages now, we have been told that the national cricket team’s dismal performances were mainly a reflection of the paucity of playing time.
Candid Comment by Kevin Mapasure
Only last year, we were made to believe that their repeated capitulation, particularly in Bangladesh where they toured and lost all matches in all formats of the game, was mainly due to lack of proper guidance in the technical tea.
That was when Steve Mangongo was at the helm as national team coach, while Givemore Makoni was the convenor of selectors.
It is almost eight months now since a host of changes were effected to stem the slide, from the coaching set-up to the frequency of international cricket the team has been exposed to, yet the results have largely failed to improve, with cricket fans now resigned to more poor results.
Since Zimbabwe was eliminated from the World Cup in the first round hosted by New Zealand and Australia, where associate side Ireland surprisingly claimed one of the places to the next round at Zimbabwe’s expense, the Chevrons have played Pakistan, India and New Zealand in a space of four months.
Next month they will host Pakistan before entertaining South Africa, rounding off the year by staging a triangular series that will involve Afghanistan and Ireland.
Then Bangladesh beckons with two Tests, three ODIs and two T-20s lined up for the New Year.
Which brings us to coach Dave Whatmore, batting coach Andy Waller and bowling coach Dougie Hondo.
Despite having played India and New Zealand and possibly South Africa by the time they tour, the Bangladesh trip will probably be their sternest test.
There are some who still buy the lack of game time excuse, but their ranks have drastically dwindled since the India and New Zealand visits where the team won only one of the five 50 overs matches, and just one of three T-20s.
Even the die-hard fans will look at the Bangladesh tour and demand results.
Zimbabwe Cricket has been doing its part.
Recently the players were presented with contracts that will allow at least 24 of them to be relatively comfortable. The contracts that reward the performers, with reviews set to be conducted quarterly.
In our crumbling economy and harsh business environment, cricketers in Zimbabwe cannot claim to be underpaid as those in the national team will receive an average basic monthly salary of US$4 000.
Add match fees and winning bonuses to that and you have some of the best paid people in Zimbabwe. But under the circumstances that have been created for the players and their coaches, no more excuses be can entertained going forward.
What we saw against an under-strength India in the first and second ODIs is not acceptable. Since the new regime took over, the cricket numbers read matches played 19; wins, 3; defeats, 16.
The team must just perform far much better.