New Zealand in Zimbabwe 2011-12

'I thought of having a swing' - Waller

Firdose Moonda

October 26, 2011

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Malcolm Waller winds up for a big hit, Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Harare, October 22, 2011
Malcolm Waller managed to keep his cool as wickets fell around him © AFP
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Malcolm Waller still isn't entirely sure how he managed to keep himself calm in the crucial final moments of Zimbabwe's record run-chase against New Zealand. The hosts needed one run off two deliveries, with a single wicket in hand, to successfully reached a target over 300 for the first time. Up stepped Waller with the innings of his life and he made sure he gave the No. 11, debutant Njabula Ncube, some simple advice. "No matter what happens, if I get bat on ball, let's take the run."

Waller was on 98 at the time having batted bravely and survived four chances, three of them catches and one run out, and had formed a match-changing partnership with Elton Chigumbura before marshalling the tail to take the game down to the final two deliveries. "I thought of swinging at the second last ball and trying to get it over the field but then I decided not to," Waller told ESPNcricinfo. "Somehow I managed to stay pretty calm."

His cool head and quick single ensured that Zimbabwe clinched a tense win and broke a losing streak that had lasted for 12 matches across three international series. It was a victory that went against mould in many ways; their first successful 300-plus pursuit with a batting line-up prone to collapse and on a ground that hasn't been kind to them of late.

Since their return to Test cricket in August and their ODI series win over Bangladesh, Zimbabwe have stuttered. They were outplayed by Pakistan and were dismal in the opening T20 and ODI against New Zealand. As they lurched from defeat to defeat, even the small victories - like losing by four wickets instead of nine - could not stop the cricketing world from starting to predict regression. When they conceded a massive 328 the bright days of beating Bangladesh were an increasingly distance memory and coach Alan Butcher may even have struggled to reason that victory was possible.

Waller said that despite their disappointment in the field the dressing room certainly didn't think it was beyond them, yet they spent the lunch break planning, not for a victory, but for the best way to do damage control. "It was a big task but we said to ourselves that we didn't have anything to lose," he said. "We knew that with a few good partnerships, we could get close."

That was what Zimbabwe aimed for - to lose with dignity.

When Vusi Sibanda was out for a duck, even that looked impossible. However, Brendan Taylor had other ideas. Twice he had scored a century in the series and ended up on the losing side. Again he batted with aggression playing glorious, technically sound strokes at rapid pace. The mood changed.

"He started the whole thing for us," Waller said. "It lifted most of us and we thought that if two or three batters can do what he did we will get close."

Still, it was only getting close to the line that was in their minds, not over it.

Taylor was dismissed for 75 and usually that would have signalled the end of Zimbabwe's fight, but this time Tatenda Taibu stepped up. With nifty footwork against spin and Hamilton Masakadza as his steely assistant, Taibu kept Zimbabwe alive. Still, when the pair was dismissed, with Forster Mutizwa's wicket sandwiched in between, it looked all over.

The two-big hitters, Waller and Chigumbura, had not done more than set off a few fireworks previously, but this time they lit up Zimbabwe's cricketing sky. "At the beginning we just wanted to take it slow and see how we go," Waller said. "We hadn't much opportunity to bat for long periods. It was really nice to bat with Elton, he took the pressure off. And when Elton started hitting it cleanly, I thought if we stick around until the last ten five overs, we might be in it."

The pair got the target down to a run-a-ball, before Chigumbura perished as he swung against Jacob Oram. Despite only having the tail to come, Waller didn't panic. "I knew we'd brought it close enough," he said.

Keegan Meth was next in and Waller hoped he would "score a quick 20" but Meth lasted only two balls and was dismissed when he charged down the track at Luke Woodcock. "He was trying to do the right thing," Waller said. With the last of the allrounders back in the hut, Waller thought the chase was off. After all, they had come close enough.

"With two guys on debut [Natsai Mushangwe and Njabula] left to bat, I thought the pressure might be a bit much." Any other day it might have, as Zimbabwe have showed with the bat before, but on Tuesday it wasn't. Ray Price hung around for long enough to level the scores and then Waller finished it off himself to write his name into Zimbabwe's cricket history.

"To win one game was great," he said. "We always knew the Bulawayo wicket was tough for bowlers, especially if teams have wickets in hand. It's hard to defend here.

And what about the century which eluded Waller? "At one stage, when we needed 25 to win and I needed 18 to get to the hundred, I thought I would end up ten short if another batsmen gets going," he said. "Then, at the end I thought about it but I decided to take the team home rather than get 100."

Waller's selflessness gave Zimbabwe a much-needed victory and he hopes it will open the door for a more regular place in the starting XI. "I want to perform more consistently," he said. "If I can do well in the bowling department as well it means we can have an extra bowler, too."

However, beyond Waller's skills it's his big-match temperament that turned around a Zimbabwe side. "New Zealand have played some really good cricket and guys were never too down," he said. "But now we have some extra confidence."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mahjut on (October 29, 2011, 12:16 GMT)

Good on waller - he's extending his form in the pre-test match let's hope he extends it further in the test. Elton has extended a stick to beardsly by going for a duck ... :) Still, he's needed as an allrounder (Waller will be picked as a specialist bat is my guess - his position above elton in the batting line up is a clear indicator that's where the selectors see his strength lying) as I'm sure the selectors noticed that without Elton there simply was no Waller 99*

Posted by mahjut on (October 29, 2011, 8:48 GMT)

LynadThike: "I have to ask is what is being done about Masakadzas batting" i guess nothing _ he's out for under 8 in the 90 over game :(

Posted by mahjut on (October 28, 2011, 22:47 GMT)

I stilll think that at this point to call waller an allrounder is a misnomer. He looks gritty with the bat but his bowling has been, internationally and resultwise at least, ordinary at best. I have no inside information so if it is known inhouse that Elton has grown complacent then he should sort it out - we don't need that...bad fielding always seems a good sign of complacency and zim's feilding has looked a lot shodier than it EVER was. Utseya seems superfluous but so far I don't see Elton as that big an underperformer. Really, apart from Taylor, who has had more than one decent effort in a series? When persisting with a player the selectors need to get it right - don't drop someone too soon as they did with Meth (in his initial series in the WI i think) or S Masakadza but don't hold on too long as they did with Matsikenyeri and Coventry. IMO Elton is still worth his place - all the better if someone is pushing - but that seems to be more Meth than Waller for an allrounder position.

Posted by LynadThike on (October 28, 2011, 15:41 GMT)

My delight with Wallers performance in relation to Elton is that I hope it puts more pressure on him to perform. I feel Elton has lost a little love for the game and the best thing that selectors might do is not assure his spot in the team as much. He needs that fighting instinct back and although this shone through in the last ODI you just feel he's content to give only one decent account of himself per series.

Another question I have to ask is what is being done about Masakadzas batting. He seems to be very tightly wound when in the middle and often finds himself bogged down, and when he feels the pressure and tries to break the shackles is shortly walking back to the pavilion, maybe it's a product of concentrating on test cricket batting? I really hope that he is able to spend some decent time out in the middle during the tour game to get back some of his fluidity.

Posted by mahjut on (October 28, 2011, 10:39 GMT)

Beardsly - yet after 20 games chigumbura had an average of 24 and Waller 18 - it has taken a 99* to bring his average up to Chigumbura's. Of course there is an arguement that you'd prefer a guy who can win one game in 10 and be part of the collapse the other 9 times than someone who can roughly offer 24 runs most games. I think Elton has an unhealthy bowl/bat average but Waller' bowling after 21 ODI innings leaves the term 'allrounder' in serious doubt with an ave and SR double Elton's. all in all rather harsh i'd say Beardsly. i'm neither overly keen on Elton nor overly critical of waller

Posted by   on (October 27, 2011, 14:40 GMT)

that was good cricket played by e boys they wer very positive wen batting n waller gr8 wrk ma man n grant flower is doing a very good job as e batting coach

Posted by Nduru on (October 27, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

Thanks for the feedback on my comments! I totally agree that fielding has been the major difference in many of our performances. Look at that test with Pak - we could have taken a 100 run first innings lead had we taken any one of SEVEN catches on offer. Then in the 2nd ODI with NZ, those 4 drops were key. At least Waller stood up in the next game and made up for his drops. I do agree that Pak and NZ were slightly weaker than they could have been, but we also have Cremer out injured, Taibu missed the T20s, Vusi is still struggling after the loss of his mother etc, so I think we must just measure the players on the field. Besides, as pointed out below, NZ are a very disciplined side nomatter who is playing, and Pakistan has this conveyor belt of excellent cricketers who perform when guys like Afridi decide to take a sabbatical! One further point about the fielding. I think we need a proper fielding coach. Price should not be in the slips either as his technique is all wrong.

Posted by   on (October 27, 2011, 11:23 GMT)

If a site admin is reading they might want to look at the profiles for Andy, Malcolm & Nathan Waller: The family realtionship at the top says Andy is their father and Malcolm & Nathan are brothers. The biographical text says Andy is Malcolm's father and the Malcolm & Nathan are cousins.

Posted by DonnyW on (October 27, 2011, 9:48 GMT)

Finally, a new all-rounder to shove a rocket up Elton's backside. Thank you. I hope that the selectors have noted that your 99* is higher than Elton has ever scored in his 100+ matches. He has been the biggest under achiever in Zim cricket, and I hope that Waller's emergence does not mean automatic selection for the lazy and uninspiring Chigumbura.

Posted by paidamoyo on (October 27, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

But Masakadza should become more serious with his inclusion in the team.

Posted by satish619chandar on (October 27, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

It was one great knock.. Wonderful for him not to have a swing and risk a win even though its he was at on the fringe of a well deserving maiden ton!! Temperament......

Posted by LynadThike on (October 27, 2011, 5:55 GMT)

@Nduru well said. I think everyone gets caught up in the hype when Zim provides a positive result and forgets that this is a team still finding its feet. I will point out one thing and that is the quality of fielding they have been showing lately, not good enough and has made the difference in a lot of the matches they have lost. It perhaps shows that there hasn't been enough emphasis on the basics, something that emerging squads often fall pray to. A lot of the current guys have tasted defeat more often than not on the international scene and it will take a while for them to fully believe that a victory is not down to the opposition and regain the ability to cross the line and win.

Posted by   on (October 27, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

Great win for the team. i hope the selectors give Waller a place in the test side. he plays well for his side locally in the 4 day matches. nduru got it spot on there, we are going to lose more matches than win them. Its the way we lose which should be of concern. If we can compete for the next year we will definately start winning. We need more series with test playing nations though.

Posted by Empire_Of_Cricket on (October 27, 2011, 3:32 GMT)

Way to go Zimbabwe!!! under Brendan Taylor's Captain-ship Zimbabwe is really growing their cricketing skills slowly...good for Zimbabwe and too good for world test cricket as well... because now the test cricket is need some strong opponents for some good show...

Posted by   on (October 27, 2011, 2:33 GMT)

To be fair, aldridge, woodcock and mickay arnt exactly new zealand's first choice bowling attack. the experiance and talent of mills and southee would have made it alot more difficult for Zimbabwe, not to mention watling and nicol opening the batting. Good win however.

I totally agree with Nduru too, Zimbabwe did well to beat bangladesh, comepeted against Pakistan. New zealand were always going to be difficult to face because of their resounding discipline, I believe zimbabwe should be proud of their come back performances.

They have achieved more in the last 6 months than Bangladesh did in their first 10 years of full member status.

Posted by nzplayer on (October 27, 2011, 0:58 GMT)

nz is the laughing stock of the cricket world after this.. but i guess thats what happens when the selectors keep trying out people who fail to do well in the domestic scene. the bowling and feilding was awful in this game nz dropped so many easy chances and failed to change their line and length into the death overs.. i cant remember one ball that went in the block hole in the last 15 overs. hence they keep bolwing back of a lenth giving zimbabwe easy runs by been able to get underneath the ball and hit over the infeild. poor nz i feel ashamed should have been 3-0 series win! easily!

Posted by   on (October 27, 2011, 0:19 GMT)

well done waller, great to see u put team 1st and played the single instead of the hundred, I know if i was in same situation id definetely try for the hundred

Posted by mahjut on (October 26, 2011, 23:45 GMT)

Nduru - i agree with you more now that PK are more than competing with SL than i would have done just after they left Zim. PK cricket looked ad hoc on paper - they had just 4 players of any note at all (some PK supporters may not like that but for me they 2 bowlers and 2 batters at the start of the Zim tour), certainly a weaker team than the 'old zim' used to play (and lose to, mostly). leaving us zim supporters with some hope. This was also a NZ side that had been whitewashed by the same BD team we beat, more hope!! To get this win has resored a little pride and to see PK performing admirably now to some extent vindicates Zim's defenders in the PK series. i also think McCullum can really bat when he's batting well - which he did all series but there are problems: Prosper is not taking wickets nor containing as well as before, the bowling was not looking good ... I still think the Vitori's and Jarvis' will turn ot ok but still need work. all in all, not too bad...wishing them well!!

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 23:42 GMT)

His father Andy Waller would be proud of his son's antics...a champion father and now a champion son....well done wallers

Posted by Tigg on (October 26, 2011, 22:38 GMT)

There is a lot of hope for Zimbabwe. They have a sound Captain who happens to be an excellent batsman (and young enough to be around the side for another decade). Up bad coming all rounders like Meth and Waller. A good keeper and the begginnings of a decent attack in Price, Jarvis and Vitori.

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 22:30 GMT)

a good team always produces good results.well done zim.keep it up.cheerz!!!

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 22:25 GMT)

Always believed that Zim batsman have the talent to bat better and thought they would chase this target If all batsman play upto their potential. Elton, Taylor and Taibu are natural stroke players and Waller has been a surprise.. This win will give a big boost in future.. Go Zim..

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 22:15 GMT)

go zim go we are proud of u boys-lets win the test challenge

Posted by Reviji on (October 26, 2011, 21:15 GMT)

Keep it up Waller, It should not be one great moment of your life but it should be one of the great moments of your Career. Zim should be encouraged to play more cricket with the test playing nations. We can never forget Andy and Grant Flower. They have the capacity to produce more great cricketers like them. Great going and keep up the momentum

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 20:05 GMT)

Ayeye, viva la Zim, well played gents!

Posted by Nduru on (October 26, 2011, 18:52 GMT)

Thanks for the article Firdose and well done Zimbabwe. I am surprised though, that you (Firdose) fall into the same trap of some other cricinfo writers who have the wrong impression that Zim have gone backwards since the Bangladesh series. Just because we did well against Bangladesh does not mean that we would suddenly be expected to beat Pakistan and New Zealand easily. Remember that even with the Flowers and co in the team, we used to lose to those teams more often than not. We did lose all those games in a row, but the thing to remember is that only a few were one sided defeats and with a little more experience it could have been a drawn test with Pak, a drawn T20 series and a 2-1 ODI loss. Same as th NZ T20s, we could have won the second one with a bit more experience. So I don't buy this stuff about the world thinking Zim cricket was sinking. Believe me, we will always lose more matches than we win for a few years to come, and the boys know not to be too hard on themselves.

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 18:47 GMT)

Awesome Batting Waller!!!!

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 18:41 GMT)

Great Knok By This Emerging Guy... I Just Log on Cricinfo and Zimbabwe in Charge...... Good for young man and good for Zimbabwe Form

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (October 26, 2011, 18:18 GMT)

Amazing win for Zimbabwe...keep it up!!

Posted by   on (October 26, 2011, 17:47 GMT)

Well done Zim. go ahead>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>||||||||

Posted by braindead_rocker on (October 26, 2011, 16:42 GMT)

Zimbabwe should guide these players and build a strong team for the future.

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