With three World Cup events having taken place in England, the International Cricket Council (ICC) opened up the event to go global.
Thus, India and Pakistan got a nod ahead to host the first-ever world cup in 1987.
Zimbabwe, who played their first ICC event in 1983 were still an associate member. They had to play a qualifying round in England to board the flight to India and Pakistan, as the entirety of their group stage matches were scheduled there.
In the final of the qualifiers, Zimbabwe managed to upstage Holland to book their berth for the all-important tournament. On papers, the Zimbabwean team perhaps seemed stronger vis-a-vis the one that played in 1983. It seemed capable of giving a strong competition to many Test-playing nations.
In this process, although Zimbabwe finished without a win, they gained a reputation as an indomitable fielding side in the world. This was an aspect which was then, undermined but decisive. So, Zimbabwe had then aced an aspect of the game that is today a standard requirement for any cricketing outfit.
Zimbabwe’s World Cup Journey
|1983 (England)||Group Stage||8/8||6||1||5||0||0|
|1987 (India and Pakistan)||0||6||0|
|1992 (Australia and New Zealand)||Round- Stage||9/9||8||1||7||0||0|
|1996 (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)||Group Stage||9/12||6||4||0||1|
|1999 (England, Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands)||Super Six||5/12||8||3||4||0||1|
|2003 (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya)||6/14||9||5||0||1|
|2007 (West Indies)||Group Stage||13/16||3||0||2||1||0|
|2011 (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh)||10/14||6||2||4||0||0|
|2015 (Australia and New Zealand)||11/14||1||5||0||0|
|2019 (England)||Did Not Qualify|
Two decades later, we find the African nation in a string of heartbreaking mess.
Zimbabwe haven’t qualified for the World Cup, scheduled for 2019.
However, much has happened after their first World Cup appearance, that seems to have led them to in this situation.
It’s not that arduous to catch a few clues that pose a reasonable doubt in the shambolic state of affairs the team currently finds itself in.
Does the following point to a string of issues that have complicated the side?
Three and a half years ago when Brendon Taylor left Zimbabwe with a thought to never return was the first major setback Zimbabwe Cricket suffered. Like so many of his countrymen, he was only aiming to be a temporary economic refugee of sorts, escaping a crumbling economy to find financial stability abroad. With this, he had signed a Kolpak deal at the end of a disappointing World Cup exit in 2015.
Sometime later in media, Taylor cleared his intentions that he looks forward to playing some good cricket ahead for which he has been properly ‘reimbursed’. This led him to sacrifice his national team spot and started playing some rigorous county trenches. His departure majorly led to clear conundrum behind Zimbabwe’s inconsistent performances.
Lack of Support
Though Zimbabwe Cricket has been able to produce some spectacular talent, but have always failed to find the much-needed support from the other end. From the Flower brothers to Heath Streak to Brendon Taylor and now Hamilton Mazakadza, all have consistently scored runs in their respective era without continuous support from the other end has ultimately led to losses.
With this, their ‘cricket nationalism’ unlike India has never been able to reach a crescendo due to dishearten on-field performances. In lieu of this, the support from fans also declined as they stopped turning up to witness International games.
A bright side is that Zimbabwe has four stadiums and International matches have time and again been played at the Harare Sports Club. But what about the rest of the grounds?
Concerns take centre-stage when it’s reckoned that cricketing facilities for a county match played in England and Wales offer far better than facilities vis-a-vis offered by the administrative board of Zimbabwe Cricket to its national team players.
The players’ efforts underlined by utter commitment in the relentless heat on dry and dusty outfields have all went to produce only eighty per cent of their total effort because of the amenities in comparison to countries like England, Australia, and India.
Can someone place the missing pictures in the puzzle?
What seems the way forward?
With the experienced Masakadza as their skipper and Lalchand Rajput who has been around for a while as a coach, the team certainly possesses potential to bring back lost glory. Cricket pundits all around the world feel the urge for teams to get back to their best again, and Zimbabwe is certainly one of them they are looking to turn the tables once again replicate their two decades ago performance.
It’s important for Zimbabwean cricket to perform collectively as a group if they wish to turn things around in their favour. The current cricketing scenario is nothing short of being obnoxious to which they will try to get rid soon.
The only way forward from here seems to rest in the Zimbabwean cricket’s ability to bounce back.
But surely, that seems an sordid task, given the current administration and player morale are at an all-time low. But let’s not discount the power of the impossible to trump us all holding views and assesments. The Zimbabwean cricket team will be playing an ODI series against the Proteas in September.
One hopes to see some improvements from thereon. But will we?