In Cricket, you are not only attracted to teams that play to full potential but also to sides that constantly remind us of what they can truly be. In that regard, perhaps it suffices to say there was something about Zimbabwe, a team that would rarely be blown away in an international game. For a nation, which has always been plagued by racial ignominy of massive proportions, Zimbabwe always managed to give a good account of themselves.
In some ways, when one ascertains the series of lows that struck Zimbabwean Cricket in 2019, it is important to reflect back at a time where a culture continuingly siding with rifts, ineffective administration, and what at one point seemed, a complete dearth of interest to support the cricket in the famous African nation resulted in pushing the game to the brink.
The irony of Zimbabwean Cricket surrounds around the unfortunate corruption, which has always existed in its core. They had narrowly missed out on a Semi Final berth during the 1999 World Cup. The admirable performances of Andy Flower, Alastair Campbell and Henry Olonga during their heydays always drew crowds on a sun kissed Harare Cricket Club.
Though Zimbabwe’s predicament was not entirely unforeseen, it was an unfortunate event for a nation which stoically endured years of uncertainty and upheaval during the Mugabe era and even beyond that. Surely, Zimbabwe deserved much more than what has transpired over the last decade.
Zimbabwe’s joint hosting of the 2003 World Cup with South Africa was surrounded by one of their lowest points as some of the teams had reservations against travelling to the country because of Robert Mugabe’s nefarious interference in all the Cricketing operations in Zimbabwe.
In 2004, Heath Streak, Zimbabwe’s talismanic all-rounder and arguably the most effective performer was sacked at a time when he was at the summit of his cricketing powers. That was just the beginning of something that could be called a decadence which was to follow in the years to come. He was replaced by a young and inexperienced Tatenda Taibu who to his credit, put up a brave face amidst widespread turmoil.
In November 2005, even Taibu resigned as the captain and expressed his anguish over the state of affairs. The end of 2007 saw Zimbabwe defeating a strong Australia in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in South Africa. That victory initiated a period of renewed hope for them as the domestic tournament was rightly revamped and young talented cricketers started coming through once again. Zimbabwe defeated Bangladesh in their first test match after they were readmitted to International Cricket in 2011. A full-fledged T20 tournament signaled a definite infrastructural development for Zimbabwe.
The pay dispute in 2013 overshadowed the positive transformation that Zimbabwe had managed to bring about in their Cricketing system. When Brendan Taylor led an unpaid team against Pakistan, the fallacy transgressed the realm of Sports; it was a reflection of socio-economic breakdown at its lowest ebb. Soon, it would seem that the continuingly troublesome issues of the past would impact Zimbabwean Cricket in 2019.
That’s when things took a turn for the worse in 2019. Zimbabwean Cricket in 2019 showed us a cesspool of the problems, none could be bigger than the failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup played in England. was subsequently banned as a result of excessive political interference. The three-month ban was lifted in October this year as Kristy Coventry, Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister pledged commitment to keep political interference at bay.
The journey of Zimbabwe in International Cricket has sadly always been hindered by ominous events. But, a romantic story of dramatic turnaround is what Zimbabwe deserves.
Will we get to see it?
Well, who can deny hope to play its role?