IN THE end, in the grand scheme of things, one cannot say it was not expected.
Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo
We could only hope for a better result than Zimbabwe’s 117-run defeat to the West Indies in the first Test.
For, as they say, without hope you have nothing. The nation certainly hoped for a far better result than defeat inside four days.
But when everything has been said and done, this is a far stronger West Indies Test line-up than the Sri Lanka side almost beaten by Zimbabwe at home in July.
Before coming here, the men from the Caribbean were in England where they gave the Poms a real scare, defeating them by five wickets in the second Test before eventually losing the series 2-1.
But that is not to say Zimbabwe’s defeat in the first Test was a result of West Indies brilliance throughout the match.
After a bright first day in which Zimbabwe bowled out the tourists for 219, they also engineered their own downfall for the rest of the Test.
Wickets were lost cheaply, and fielding was again below par.
The wicketkeeper position remains a major cause for concern.
Once again, we find ourselves going back to the drawing board.
The welcome return of Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis to the international fold was never going to be a quick-fix solution.
It would be naïve to expect it to be such.
That move, lauded a masterstroke by many, is for all intents and purposes only a solid foundation on which to set stability going forward, and happily the signs in the first Test were encouraging.
Taylor seemed to have found his groove on his comeback Test until he went softly for 73 in the second innings.
Jarvis toiled hard on an unresponsive wicket, proving throughout to be the pace spearhead we have been longing for.
Solomon Mire, too, showed lots of promise on his Test debut.
The way forward for Zimbabwe is to take positives from the match. One of them was being able to bowl out the opposition twice.
Taking 20 wickets against an opposition of the quality of this West Indies side should thoroughly please coach Heath Streak, himself a former bowler.
I feel for the team. They are far better cricketers than what we saw in the first Test. They will be more disappointed with their effort than everybody else.
Of course, we should ponder over the team’s shortcomings. But there is no need to get disheartened.
The important thing for Zimbabwe is to build on two fronts.
One, the feel-good atmosphere in the game at the moment. That spirit of harmony and orderliness is the lifeline of Zimbabwean cricket. No one wants to see the game dragged back to the dark era again.
Two, the team. As much as there is excitement over the composition of the side at the moment, this is not by a long shot the best Zimbabwe XI.
The need to tap into every available Zimbabwean talent can never be overemphasised. I have said this time and time again: a nation like ours does not have the luxury of the talent-drain we often experience.
After Zimbabwe’s impressive showing at last year’s Under-19 World Cup, authorities promised to integrate the squad into the national system.
Only pace bowler Richard Ngarava has gotten a fair crack of the whip since then.
One day when Zimbabwe has every gifted cricketer raising their hand for selection, then we can be said to have a national team truly representative of the country.