Series Review

West Indies v Zimbabwe, 2006

ESPNcricinfo staff

One-day internationals (7): West Indies 5, Zimbabwe 0

Zimbabwe Cricket's decision to suspend themselves from Test cricket briefly threatened this tour, originally scheduled to include two Tests and five oneday internationals. The trip was eventually saved, but to no obvious purpose: the callow Zimbabweans - the oldest was 25-year-old Keith Dabengwa, and nine of the team were less than 22 - stumbled from one collapse to another. The bitter schism between Zimbabwe's players and officials led to this inexperienced side being thrown to what in this company counted as lions.

Terry Duffin, the captain, had only played four one-day internationals before the tour, all against Kenya a few weeks earlier, and predictably struggled at the top of the order against the West Indian fast bowlers, while his usual opening partner, the chubby Piet Rinke, managed a highest score of 12 in six international innings, although he did slog two hundreds in the warmups. Duffin, a 24-year-old left-hander, is solid in build and stolid at the crease: he found it hard to increase his scoring rate.

Kevin Curran, Zimbabwe's coach, admitted that his team's main aim was to bat through the 50 overs, and this lack of ambition led to some games being effectively over by halfway. His club-class medium-pacers posed few problems to the batsmen either. And the crowds, predictably, were poor: St John's, in particular, was almost empty and the only reasonable attendances were in St Lucia, where the floodlights were a novelty, and in Guyana, where people came along to say farewell to the beloved old ground at Bourda.

But the misery for Zimbabwe was not total. Chamu Chibhabha played three correct innings before tweaking a hamstring. Among the bowlers, Ed Rainsford did well before leaving the tour to play club cricket in London, and both Prosper Utseya and Tawanda Mupariwa bowled intelligently; the original decision to deny Mupariwa the new ball was mysterious. At 18, Ryan Higgins looked a promising leg-spinner, although as yet without a googly. But it was never remotely enough and, even though the West Indians rarely hit top form, Zimbabwe never threatened an upset, except briefly in the first game and in the rain-ruined sixth match.

The main interest for West Indies lay in the return of Brian Lara for his third spell as captain, but his tactical skill was hardly tested, and his batting hardly needed after he bailed the side out in the first match. The usual suspects scored the runs - Ramnaresh Sarwan led the way with 254 - but against such modest opposition little was learned before the Indian series that followed. Jamaica's Jerome Taylor was the pick of the bowlers, and took the first two match awards.

Match reports for

Antigua and Barbuda v Zimbabweans at St Mary's, Apr 24, 2006
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Antigua and Barbuda v Zimbabweans at St Mary's, Apr 25, 2006
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1st ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at St John's, Apr 29, 2006
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2nd ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at St John's, Apr 30, 2006
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Tour Match: University of West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI v Zimbabweans at St Mary's, May 3, 2006
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3rd ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Georgetown, May 6, 2006
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4th ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Georgetown, May 7, 2006
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5th ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Gros Islet, May 10, 2006
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6th ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Port of Spain, May 13, 2006
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7th ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Port of Spain, May 14, 2006
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1st Match: Canada v Zimbabwe at Port of Spain, May 16, 2006
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3rd Match: Bermuda v Zimbabwe at Port of Spain, May 18, 2006
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Final: Bermuda v Zimbabwe at Port of Spain, May 20, 2006
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© John Wisden & Co.