ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Pakistan v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Batting remains Zimbabwe's biggest weakness

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 14, 2011

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Elton Chigumbura is hit by an Umar Gul bouncer, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup, Pallekele, March 14, 2011
Elton Chigumbura's indifferent batting form could put his captaincy under threat © Getty Images

Alan Butcher gave an assessment of his side the day before the game against Pakistan. The English coach of Zimbabwe - a nice symmetry to that, with England's coach being from Zimbabwe - appears to have an intensely straight-talking side to him. He thought this World Cup had probably come four years too early for this group of players.

He was asked today, after a seven-wicket loss to Pakistan, his side's fourth in five group games, whether his side had given a good account of themselves in this tournament. Slowly, deliberately, he came to the stark conclusion that they hadn't. The honesty should do Zimbabwe more good than harm. The humour will be needed as well. Asked how embarrassing his side's collapse of ten for 72 against Sri Lanka was, he replied, "Embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as 9-29."

There is something to Butcher's assessment that this is one World Cup too soon. Clearly there is workable material within the Zimbabwe side. They may not, as he also acknowledged, become world-beaters on the level of Australia or South Africa. But they can become a side that will come to be taken with some seriousness by the opposition.

The batting is a problem currently. In four out of five matches, their top has toppled to such an extent that the game has been all but over in the first 15 overs. Against Pakistan they were down to 43 for 4 within 13 overs. Batting long does not come naturally yet. "We fielded well and bowled superbly, but that can't be said about our batting," Elton Chigumbura, the captain whose birthday it was, said. "We have to work on it because that has been the big problem through the tournament. Besides the batting part, we've put up a big fight. My biggest concern is on the batting in the first 15 overs, especially against stronger teams. We have to really work on that when we get home."

The decision to bat first itself seemed a strange one. Zimbabwe have talked up their bowling through the tournament though its lack of wicket-taking incisiveness would suggest otherwise. They went nearly 80 overs against New Zealand and Sri Lanka without taking a wicket.

Here, under heavy cloud with showers around, and a nervy Pakistan batting line-up susceptible to precisely such circumstances, here was a sliver of a chance. Chigumbura chose instead to make first use of the surface because, he said, it seemed a good pitch and other sides had batted first on it and flourished.

Stoppages for rain didn't help Zimbabwe, especially the one that ultimately curtailed their innings just when the last Powerplay had begun. "We lost momentum with the rain stopping and playing again," Chigumbura said. "The way we approached the innings was to go out in our last four overs but we didn't get that. That's cricket."

But ultimately, the batting just wasn't good enough. "Unfortunately [the story is] pretty much the same as the game before and the game before that," Butcher conceded. "Everybody in the dressing room, particularly the batters, are very unhappy about the way things are. None of our players are trying to give their wickets away, they are all working hard and trying to improve but things are not going their way going well for 80% of our batting unit.

"That happens sometimes in any team, the only thing we can do is to keep practicing, try identifying areas players need to improve and devise ways for that to happen. There's no magic formula. We have to keep going. You can tell by the way we fielded and the way spinners battled against the conditions, gripping the ball, there is no lack of spirit in the side. We just have to keep working."

The focus may now switch to Chigumbura's captaincy. He doesn't believe it has particularly affected his form, but he's only made 58 runs in five games in the tournament. "I haven't performed the way I wanted, but maybe it's one of those times when you just go out of form. Unfortunately it came when I was the captain but obviously I am working hard to get into form but at the end of the day it is not my decision, it' the board's."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Bryton on (March 17, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

moving fwd I think we need to be less experimental, my report card

(1) Taylor is focal, but needs a stedy partner, Im happy with Hami, but if Raza gets his passport then drop Hami to 3. (2) Mid order should be fine but needs consistancy, with Hami at 3, Taibu at 4, Craig Ervine at 5, I think its decent, (3) Headache is number 6/7, Elton needs to be dropped to shake him up, maybe try Butterworth for a while, or Coventry (since this is his natuaral position) (4) Captaincy: Price, Utseya, or Taibu no one else! (5)Bowling like Mavusani says, send the quicks (Jarvis, Mpofu, Panyangara, Masakadza) to Australia, to learn, or use Dizzy who is already in Zim to help Heath. Spin Dept is excellent, with youngsters comming through.

ODI: 1. Taylor 2. Raza 3. Hami 4. Taibu(+) 5. Ervine 6. Butterworth 7. Lamb/Dabengwa 8.Creamer 9.Utseya 10. Price 11. Mpofu

Test: 1. Taylor 2. Sibanda 3. Hami 4. Taibu(+) 5. Ervine 6. Chigumbura 7. Lamb/Dabengwa 8.Creamer 9.Utseya 10. Price 11. Mpofu

Posted by Rakesh on (March 16, 2011, 17:24 GMT)

I personally feel ,Zimbabwe must have a different coach probably from South Africa as he will know the ground situation in Zimbabwe better. Mr. Butcher does not look dynamic to me. Also I am puzzled why Blignaut, Marillier, Travis Friend Grandhome, ( even Sean Ervine be better oriented). Icc must involve a bit more that what it does.ICC does nothing of responsibility. Just disbursing money to boards is not the answer ,accountability is, that the game is improved as a result. Look beyond the subcontinent and spread and improve the game. England is a big puzzle in cricket .They do not support growth of cricket in other countries nor encourage any nation . What type of sport fans are in U.K. Look at Australia they are so competitive in all sports. England looks like they are made only with football and considers any other sport as poor cousin. England will never excel in any sport . They will continue to just importsportsman eg they will poach Irish players but not help Irish Cricket

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

@ nduru regardin chibhabha i believe he is completely fit 4 twenty20s he played teribly during the ODIS but he was outstanding in the 20 20s

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 12:36 GMT)

@nduru thx 4 takin note of mi suggestions i thot no1 cared lets agree on sum points ure a zimbabwean so ull b knowin alot more about the players than me. chakabva is completely useless he averages at 10.25 with 2 ducks in this world cup. hamilton as experience and even if he is in bad form nuthin will replace tht regardin the seamers, shingirai is extremely expensive and he dsnt take wickets either panangara proved tht he is not better . mpofu can take wickets but he is very expensive . the best seamers 4 zimbabwe are rainsfors and mupariwa . tawanda was the fastest 2 get 2 50 wickets and he is very ecoomical so y not him?? as a bowler he is doin his duty of gettin wickets so its plainly foolish 2 neglect him from the team!! coventry must be thrown away .his form is in horrid detoriation. he has top scored with 14 in this world cup along with a duck.this is a shame .as alocal zimbabwean tell me if mi suggestions make sense i hope they do cuz i want zimbabwe 2 b 1 of the best sides

Posted by Girik on (March 16, 2011, 8:31 GMT)

It is good to see actual Zimbabweans commenting on this article on Cricinfo. It shows that the game of cricket is popular there and that with a proper support and structure, the game can thrive. And we can see a truly competitive Zimbabwe back in the Test fold soon (but dunno how soon)

Posted by Andrew on (March 16, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

Don't worry Mohammed, I won't quit! Even if I wanted to I could not because I am a Zimbabwean and Zim is my team for life. That is what makes it so frustrating when they don't play as well as I know they can. I am sure that in time, they will improve. I thought people were being harsh on Alistair Campbell before, but this world cup has showed me that he is not that good. OK, I know he has a tricky job, but he must give up commentry and save his wise advise for the team itself rather than the TV viewers. I agree that Chakabva has potential but was thrown in the deep end, as was Panyangara. Mpofu and Shingi need to go to a bowling school of excellence in Australia so they can improve.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 15:15 GMT)

i think the reason why we did so bad in this world cup is because of selectors.i dnt think just because u played cricket at a proffessional level,it makes u a good selector.i'v been told that team selection is a delicate,acquired art.sport psychology and the likes come into play.i dnt think allister had time to learn these.why would he,when he's busy commenting instead of trying to rectify his mistakes.im not sure u guys picked it up,but there was a lot of disparity between campbell and butcher.campbell seems to be content with riding the "revamped domestic structure,old players returning" wave.butcher on the other hand was quite frank mentioning that some of the players we have are just not good enough to play international cricket and will have to be done away with.thats the god's honest truth.chakabva is not yet ready,panyangara looks petrified out there and coventry is in oblivion.as for vusi sibanda,i dnt need to say much.we need selectors from other countries to show us.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 15:05 GMT)


Posted by terry on (March 15, 2011, 14:37 GMT)

ridiculous, i am absolutley appalled by the inefficiency of the selectors and captain alike. How on earth you expect to be challenging anybody without a specialist opener is beyond me. why did the selctors drop hamilton, chibhabha, its beyond me. What have convetry or chakabva achieved more than hamie or justice?.....why on earth did they just leave duffin to rot on the bench...he is a specialist opener (left handed) and surely he deserves a run in the side. poor captaincy throughout, from decisions from the toss to selection of players to work with......give the captaincy to price who would lead by example or if you are looking for a long term option give it to taibu...i would have said taylor but that might just affect his performances

Posted by Andrew on (March 15, 2011, 13:09 GMT)

@Meety thanks for your encouraging comments about the Zim team. I think the reason we did not do well is that we lack the experience to balance with the young talent that we have. Ireland, for example, are impressing because they have some super young players like Dockrell, Rankin, Stirling etc, and then they have some real seasoned pros like Johnston and the other guys of South African and Australian origin. If Zim had a few experienced guys who played county cricket in our team, then I think that we would be as good as Ireland, but I have now seen that Ireland are better because of those experienced guys. I hope they continue to go from strength to strength. Please don't let England poach the young guys!

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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