Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12 January 31, 2012

Chakabva confident of competing in ODIs

Zimbabwe's innings and 301-run defeat in their one-off Test against New Zealand represents, in numerical terms, the massive gulf between them and the next tier of the Test playing world. In more literal ones, it symbolises a significant stride backward for a nation that made a respectable comeback to Test cricket last year.

Having seemingly built up the ability to compete and even sometimes win, their progress was smashed to smithereens on a single day. But, take into account that it was their maiden voyage from home since their return to the Test fold and the hard edges of how badly they performed are somewhat softened. "For most of us, it's our first tour in New Zealand but as professionals we are expected to adapt," Regis Chakabva told ESPNcricinfo. "It would have been disappointing to lose like that, no matter what conditions we played in."

Chakabva is the only Zimbabwe batsmen who could walk away from the match claiming to understand New Zealand's pitches. His 63 in the second innings was the highest score and most accomplished performance in an otherwise abysmal Zimbabwe showing. In his typically unassuming style, Chakabva has not read too much into the effort and given the result, he probably can't.

"All our batsmen are good players, it just didn't happen for them on the day," he said. "I didn't do too much differently or make too many adjustments; I just tried to stick around as long as possible. Once the ball got older it was easier, it was a good batting pitch."

If there was an area Chakabva led the way in, it was mindset. Instead of panic, even though he walked in to bat with the score on 12 for 5, he showed rare grit, something Alan Butcher has tried to develop in his players since he took over as coach. Butcher has long lamented that Zimbabwe are quick to get spooked. Tell them the pitch will be difficult to bat on and they will struggle with shot selection, tell them someone is a good bowler and they will crumble at the sight of him, tell them they have to put in a respectable performance away from home and the pressure will cause them to melt.

It seemed to be the case in Napier but Chakabva said the squad were not affected by outside influences. Even though they were aware of what was expected of them, they tried to create an environment of calm in the lead up to the match. "We weren't under that much pressure to do well, we knew it wouldn't be easy but we were aware of the situation and what we needed to," he said, following it up with a simple enough explanation for what went wrong. "We just didn't do well."

With Chris Martin doing most of the demolition job, it would appear that Zimbabwe were equally outdone by a quality fast bowler as they were by conditions that suited him. Chakabva said that was not the case.

Four seamers, he said, were not the problem. "I wouldn't say they have a fearsome attack, they are very good but not fearsome." Neither was the strip. "The wicket had more grass than usual but we have a ground at Harare, the country club, which is also bowler friendly, with more bounce. We have seen pitches like this before."

Zimbabwe have had five days to prepare for the limited-overs leg of the series, instead of three, and Chakabva said they have worked on everything from "one-day cricketing skills" to "getting our minds ready".

Far from sulking, Chakabva said they are "enjoying" the trip. While taking in the sights and sounds of a place most of them have never been to before, they have also been reminded that they still have a job to do and Chakabva said they will do it properly. "We will be more competitive, we are working hard and we want to represent our country well. Like Brendan Taylor said, we want to show the world we can play."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Johnathon on February 2, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    The important thing is that considering Zimbabwe is a minnow team and that they have only recently been reinstated back into international cricket, it will take some time. Remember, we are promoting cricket, not laughing at their humble performances. I would like people to remember that Big Fishes can be beaten, ie. Ireland beating England and Bangladesh, Bangladesh beating England, etc in the last WC. And to let people know, Zimbabwe in the late 90's was a force to reckon with. The Flower brothers, along with Heath Struck and crew really gave the top teams a run for their money. May I remind you that in Zimbabwe, NZ almost lost to Zimbabwe and in the ODIs Zimbabwe chased down a 300+ target from NZ. Therefore I can expect some competitive cricket once they get used to conditions. That aside @Fattyboys Judging that the first Test was a super green pitch and that teams are getting whitewashed away nowadays, Sri Lanka put up a good performance in SA. They could have won the ODIs but rain

  • Cliff on February 2, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    Up there with the best batting conditions you will find anywhere in test cricket. NZ out batted, bowled and fielded their opposition. End. Of. Story.

  • Dummy4 on February 2, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    All the best to the guys in their ODI series, i never thought Chakabva would have been the only batsman to stand up aganist the Newzealand attack, at least some body has improved

  • Hritam on February 1, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    I support Chakabva's views. Their performance against New Zealand at the Napier Test was unacceptable. Hope, they compete in the ODIs.

  • Ryan on February 1, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    @Nduru: I agree with the point you are making but it is a far stretch to say "Sri Lanka - they are as good a team as SA." While Sri Lanka did win a test in that series you cant say they are as good as SA because they aren't. Anyway, I Zimbabwe will definitely compete in the ODI's. They may not win a game but will push NZ in a couple of them.

  • Andrew on February 1, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    @ahsha: May I remind you that this same 'rabble' gave your team a mighty good fight in Bulawayo and almost pulled off a famous win? May I also remind you to be more humble: New Zealand played their first test in 1930 and it took them 25 years (yes TWENTY FIVE YEARS) before they won their first test! They have played 367 tests of which they have lost 148 and won only 70. Now that your team is doing OK, please don't forget that you also took a long time to get to where you are now and that at one point the world could also have said "I don't think the world needs to see these guys play".

  • michael on February 1, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    Zimbabwe were abysmal in every facet of the game!Jarvis proved worthy but the rest were a rabble.A decent club senior side could have knocked them over.I shudder to think about the damage a "fearsome" attack would have inflicted upon them.I don't think the world needs to see these guys play-A waste of time!! Come on over South Africa!

  • Andrew on February 1, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    Good article Firdose. I just have one bone to pick with you...Why when Zimbabwe loses one test heavily, having played very well against Pakistan and New Zealand does it suddenly show a 'huge' gulf between the 'first' tier and them? I don't agree! When England lost heavily to Pakistan nobody was saying there is a huge gulf between Pakistan and them. What about Sri Lanka - they are as good a team as SA, but they also lost heavily. Why not wait and see how Zim progresses over a longer period before giving this assessment. You should know that progress in tests is a slow business and there are bound to be some regressions along the way. The important thing is that the players learn from these regressions, but it does not suddenly mark a huge backward step as you claim! As I've said, even big teams lose heavily at times, so I'm not sure why people start crowing about competency when an inexperienced team does the same. Give them a chance!

  • Mark on January 31, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Zimbabwe showed poor application in conditions that demanded concentration and patience. As a result they were undone by quality and consistent swing bowling. Chakabva is right that NZ's bowling attack is not fearsome, but neither has England's been over the last few years - it's the consistency and relentlessness of a team of bowlers pitching the ball in good areas with a bit of swing that works so well.

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