Zim need to learn the dy­nam­ics of Test cricket

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

ZIM­BABWE played In­dia in a short one-day in­ter­na­tional and Twenty20 In­ter­na­tional series, be­fore they got them­selves busy with a two-Test series against New Zealand.

The first Test lasted four days and as ex­pected, there was no com­pe­ti­tion from the home side. The bowl­ing was or­di­nary; and field­ing set­ting was nowhere close to Test match stan­dards. Their bat­ting im­proved in the sec­ond out­ing after their first in­nings, but still lost the game by in­nings and 117 runs.

No one would have re­ally thought Zim­babwe would pose any threat to the vis­it­ing team. They hardly play Tests and their last prominent win was against Pak­istan, way back in 2013.

Let’s an­a­lyse how they can at least com­pete against top teams in the most gru­elling for­mat of the game in the near fu­ture.

The re­vamp process can only start, if the team man­age­ment gets down to busi­ness more se­ri­ously. The think­ing process needs to be in­stilled in the Zim­bab­wean play­ers and that can only come from the man­age­ment.

The at­ti­tude for play­ing Tests is com­pletely miss­ing from their play­ers. The ba­sics al­ways need to be pol­ished be­fore mov­ing onto big­ger is­sues. That is the one thing that is com­monly no­ticed in Zim­babwe cricket, hur­ried­ness. Due to less ex­po­sure play­ing the white, there were many draw­backs that came to one’s no­tice dur­ing the first Test. In the first in­nings, their bats­men failed to pro­vide any im­pe­tus as the whole team col­lapsed for 164.

The se­nior play­ers like Chamu Chib­habha, Hamil­ton Masakadza, Craig Ervine and Sikan­dar Raza got starts, but per­ished.

Ervine was stumped as he went against the need of hour, and threw his wicket, while Masakadza was caught and bowled by Mitchell Sant­ner. They did not play the short balls well and de­parted one by one.

Soft dis­missals were the main is­sue which led to Zim­babwe’s down­fall and they never re­cov­ered after that. Don­ald Tiri­pano was the only man, who ac­tu­ally stood tall and scored 49 (not out) off 152 balls. A sim­i­lar but more im­pact­ful in­nings was needed by the top or­der bats­men.

The pa­tience and cal­cu­lated ag­gres­sion, which is re­quired to carve out a mas­ter­ful in­nings in Tests, was se­ri­ously miss­ing.

In the bowl­ing depart­ment, Zim­babwe con­ceded 573 runs and took only six New Zealand wick­ets in the first in­nings. That says it all, about how much they strug­gled with the ball.

Bowl­ing wicket to wicket in Tests is just not the way to go. Their bowlers con­tin­ued to bowl on pre­dicted line. An es­tab­lished Test team can leave the balls to­wards the off-side re­gion, which may never dent their con­cen­tra­tion.

This was the same thing, which was miss­ing while they were bat­ting. Their cap­tain, Graeme Cre­mer, also showed all his in­ex­pe­ri­ence as he kept the field fairly open on most oc­ca­sions, which eased flow of runs for the visi­tors. There was no gully or for­ward short-leg to help the bowlers.

To Zim­babwe’s credit, they at least showed im­prove­ment in the last in­nings where they made the visi­tors grind for their win. Kane Wil­liamson had to try his part-timers to take a few wick­ets, es­pe­cially after half the side was sit­ting in the pavil­ion.

Sean Wil­liams played a classy in­nings, where he scored his maiden Test hun­dred and led his side’s re­vival in the match. He was given a very at­tack­ing field as he was play­ing his shots freely, but con­tin­ued to counter at­tack.

On the other hand, Ervine and Cre­mer played vi­tal roles and most im­por­tantly played sen­si­bly. The more time they spend on the field while bat­ting, the more con­fi­dence it would have ig­nited in the play­ers. The sec­ond and last Test be­gins on Au­gust 6. The sec­ond in­nings show­ing should bol­ster their con­fi­dence and change their approach, if they still want to com­pete in the series.

The most im­por­tant as­pect for the team and their man­age­ment is to im­bibe the right at­ti­tude re­quired for Tests, to a team play­ing Tests after a gap of two years, and be more at­tack­ing in their approach. — Cricket Coun­try

a four-team race, in­volv­ing lead­ers Rovers, Ama­ga­gasi, Chiefs and ZPC Hwange.

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