Zim need to learn the dynamics of Test cricket
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.