Zimbabwe coach relies on stats for relief October 8, 2006

Pressure grows on Curran

Kevin Curran: the stats show that Zimbabwe are getting better all the time ... but the eyes tell a different story © Getty Images
The pressure on coach Kevin Curran is increasing after Zimbabwe's dismal display in their opening match in the Champions Trophy. Zimbabwe were dismissed for 85 in 30.1 overs by West Indies, losing the match by nine wickets.

Curran had already been under fire at home. Last week it emerged that a senior board official and the head of selectors had resigned after attempts to have him dismissed were rejected by the main board.

One source close to the Zimbabwe squad said that a number of players did not have faith in Curran and they accused him of having several favourites. It was a showdown over the inclusion of Terry Duffin in the squad during the series against Bangladesh which triggered events leading to last week's resignations.

And yet, in a manner which seems to be the norm in many walks of life in Zimbabwe itself, Curran refused to even acknowledge what was clear to everyone - that his side might be immensely keen, but they are woefully short of being good enough. "These boys are all very talented," he said after the rout. "If you look at our stats, we have won eight of our last 20 ODIs. That makes for a 40% success record."

In fact, since Curran was appointed following the controversial dismissal of Phil Simmons, Zimbabwe have played 21completed ODIs, winning eight. Of those successes, five have been at home, three against Bangladesh and two against Kenya. The other three wins were abroad ... against Bermuda (twice) and Canada. Their record against the bigger fish is poor, but the real stat that should be worrying Curran is the margin of defeat in those games.

Not that Curran was about to let minor details like that get in the way of the party line. "Previous Zimbabwean teams with a lot more experience and a lot more fanfare had a success percentage of 27," he concluded, manipulating statistics to the extreme. "We are looking forward to doing well."

The result will also add to pressure on the ICC to reconsider Zimbabwe's status unless they turn things around dramatically in their remaining games. The match yesterday did not even run half its course, and Cricinfo learned from the ground authorities that only 32 tickets had been sold shortly before the scheduled start. The stats might say one thing, but it's clear that the public are not so easily fooled.