BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Zimbabwe batting coach Stuart Matsikenyeri believes the future is bright for the Test team despite their battering at the hands of Pakistan in their first Test last week.
The home side lost by an innings and 116 runs against the tourists, a result and performance that cast a dark shadow on the future, especially with the older players’ international careers moving towards their end.
Zimbabwe is set to lose its batting stalwarts Brendan Taylor (35), Craig Ervine (35), Sikandar Raza (35) and Sean Williams, who is 34 years old, in the next few years with their careers in their twilight zone.
But the general feeling has been that after the four finally pack and walk away from the game, at least as players, there is not much to be excited about in the production line.
Matsikenyeri, however, believes that the upcoming players can benefit a lot from the last few years of the experienced quartet, especially with so much cricket coming up for Zimbabwe.
He said that they are excited that the team is now set to play more Test cricket than the amount of game time that they have been getting over the last few years.
Zimbabwe will begin their second Test against Pakistan this morning and they will also play more red ball cricket this year against Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
More tours are still being negotiated.
The former Zimbabwe batsman said that there is enough talent coming up that can replace the older players.
He said the emerging players are blessed to have players such as Taylor and Williams to learn from, unlike in their time where they were thrown at the deep end as a young group after the entire national team quit.
“We will have a lot more opportunities, that’s what we want. This second Test will be our fourth in the year and potentially we will have more against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, that’s what we need for the guys to continuously get exposed,” Matsikenyeri said.
“As long as we have the experienced guys such as Taylor, Williams and Regis Chakabva, they will help the youngsters, who have the talent and skill, but require more game time.
“I believe we have the quality and we have got the guys with the technique, it’s a matter of applying ourselves and being mentally stronger which is an area we identified to have lacked in the first Test (against Pakistan).
“We also want to polish up on our shot selection and generally just the ability to stay on the crease for a lot longer, that’s what Test cricket is all about.”
Looking ahead to the second Test, he said he wants to see an improved performance by the batting unit as they seek to bounce back from the first Test defeat.
“No doubt that we were poor as a batting group in the first Test and we didn’t do ourselves any favour to put the team in a position to compete; so it’s something that the batting group has taken responsibility of,” he said.
“The job that we have done in the last few days is to work hard to try come back strong in the second Test.
“We have gone down in one Test it doesn’t mean that we can’t come back, obviously they are on a high, but we want to come back with a win.”
He said he wants to see his charges apply themselves better going forward.