Tour review

Zimbabwe v New Zealand in Zimbabwe, 2011-12

Test match (1): Zimbabwe 0, New Zealand 1
One-day internationals (3): Zimbabwe 1, New Zealand 2
Twenty20 internationals (2): Zimbabwe 0, New Zealand 2

New Zealand's arrival felt like the crowning acceptance of Zimbabwe's return to the international fold. Bangladesh and Pakistan, both recent visitors, were reliable supporters even during the bleak years, but New Zealand had been prominent among the moral objectors. Zimbabwe's sports minister David Coltart had travelled there a year earlier in a desperate bid to persuade New Zealand Cricket that sporting contact did not constitute support for Robert Mugabe - but it was hard work. It would have been an impossible sell for most, but Coltart, one of the founders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, made his audience sit up and listen.

Fears over health and safety, which had derailed previous tours, were finally abandoned by New Zealand and, six months before the visit of the senior side, an A team was despatched to compete in a triangular tournament with South Africa A and the hosts. The tourists all received anonymous letters objecting to their participation: the moral pressure exerted on players and administrators was exceptional, and discussions took place at government level. But the A squad returned afterwards to report a situation very different from the one portrayed in New Zealand and, half a year on, Ross Taylor - on his first assignment as captain - spoke warmly of the experience. It helped, no doubt, that his side had played some good cricket.

Brendan Taylor's powerful batting in the one-dayers and the one-off Test so impressed his opponents that he was offered a contract by Wellington in New Zealand's Twenty20 competition. It was a huge moment for Zimbabwe's captain, but an even more significant one for the country.

New Zealand began by winning the two Twenty20 games so emphatically that some feared humiliation, but Zimbabwe fought back with increasingly resilient performances in the first two one-day internationals, before winning the third after a stunning run-chase. A genuinely absorbing Test match - and not just for the possibility of an upset - rounded things off. But it was Ross Taylor's subsequent comments which suggested Zimbabwe's return to the big stage could be permanent. "We have enjoyed every minute of our time and we look forward to coming back," he said. The only down side came in the months afterwards, as the board struggled to pay the tour's costs, well in excess of US$1m.

Match reports for

1st T20I: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Harare, Oct 15, 2011

2nd T20I: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Harare, Oct 17, 2011

1st ODI: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Harare, Oct 20, 2011

2nd ODI: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Harare, Oct 22, 2011

3rd ODI: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Bulawayo, Oct 25, 2011

Tour Match: Zimbabwe A v New Zealanders at Bulawayo, Oct 28-29, 2011

Only Test: Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Bulawayo, Nov 1-5, 2011
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.