Chigumbura upbeat despite Benoni thrashing
Despite a winless tour, Zimbabwe have generally committed themselves admirably in South Africa - the Benoni debacle aside - and team captain Elton Chigumbura insisted that the experience of playing top-level opponents would be helpful as Zimbabwe seek to continue their development.
"It's been a positive series for us, despite the results, especially on the batting front," Chigumbura told ESPNcricinfo. "Today was just a bad day for us all round. But for the tour as a whole, it's been a positive thing for us because now we know where we are."
Zimbabwe may well have pushed South Africa a little harder had Chigumbura been in better form, but he struggled with both bat and ball in the one-dayers, managing 37 runs in three innings and picking up just two wickets for 129 runs in 16 overs. His struggles with the ball, in particular, contributed to a wider malaise in Zimbabwe's bowling and the visitors' seamers struggled to make an impression.
"There's plenty of room for improvement, especially in our bowling," conceded Chigumbura. "We just need to get our skills to the top level, which has been the biggest let-down of the whole tour. We still have lots of work to do when it comes to control in our bowling. We are alright in the field, but our execution with the ball is where we're not getting it right."
Chigumbura suggested that a preponderance of flat, batsman-friendly wickets had exposed Zimbabwe's frailties rather more harshly than might have been the case if conditions had been more suited to seam and swing. "That's the big difference," he said.
"If you play on flat wickets your margin of error is so small, and that's when your real skills come into play. Our skills on flat wickets are not yet where we want them to be, and that's something we need to work on with the World Cup coming up in the subcontinent and our tour to Bangladesh."
Zimbabwe's next assignment is a trip to Bangladesh. Although the fixture list has not yet been finalised, the tour will give them vital experience in conditions similar to what they'll encounter at the World Cup in February.
"It's going to be good to be playing Bangladesh in their sort of conditions. In a way it was also good to play against top level opposition on flat decks here, so hopefully when we go to Bangladesh our skill level will have gone up and we'll have a better understanding of the importance of control in our bowling. I have been following their series against New Zealand, they've been playing very well. You know what to expect from them - they're going to use their spinners to attack - so when we go home we're going to be working on playing spin and also on our bowling. But our batting is good at the moment."
A noticeable omission from Zimbabwe's squad on this tour was that of Ray Price. Since Zimbabwe's series against Bangladesh in January last year, Price has picked up 49 wickets at just 25.46 - and that average drops to 23.73 in the 17 games Zimbabwe have won in that time - and Chigumbura suggested his absence had been keenly felt.
"We missed Ray price on this tour. Pricey plays a really big role in the team. Unfortunately his father isn't well so he wasn't with us this time, but hopefully when we go to Bangladesh he'll be with us and he'll help a great deal on the bowling side."