Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare September 4, 2014

'Could have won if we supported Taylor' - Chigumbura

The sharing of videos via Whatsapp has caused some friction in the Zimbabwe camp recently, but there's a highlights package on Youtube that might have helped the team today. Famously, Netherlands chased down 190 in under 14 overs to progress to the Super 10s of the World T20 earlier this year and several kind souls have uploaded clips of that match on Youtube. When Zimbabwe were faced with the prospect of needing to chase down 272 in 25.2 overs in order to qualify for Saturday's final, they chose instead to focus on simply attempting to win the game. Unfortunately, that didn't work either.

"It would have been nice to just win the game," said Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe's captain. "We thought chasing 270 in 20-something overs was not realistic, so we might as well try and play to win the game, and also just try and do what we did against Australia - but with wickets in hand. Unfortunately it went the other way and we kept losing wickets.

"With the start we had it was chaseable, but after about eight overs when we'd started losing wickets it started getting harder and harder. We just left BT [Brendan Taylor] on his own. If we had supported BT, who knows, we could have put out a better performance."

Harare Sports Club isn't Sylhet, of course, and it's far harder to go at 10 an over against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel than it is against Tim Murtagh and Alex Cusack. Netherlands also had the form of Stephan Myburgh to bank upon, while Zimbabwe's top six have been frustratingly inconsistent. Zimbabwe's bowlers, and particularly their spinners, have performed somewhat admirably in this tri-series, but their batsmen have not been able to pull together effectively.

"We had games that bowlers bowled well and it was just up to the batting group to support the bowling performance," said Chigumbura. "On the batting side, guys were playing well but in patches. We didn't play as a team to put up a good performance as a batting group. It was just maybe one or two guys putting up their hand and scoring 50s and more. If you could put those scores together in one game, that's what we're looking for. If we do that consistently, we'll win more games than we lose."

Chigumbura and his coach, Stephen Mangongo, will be pleased with the development of Zimbabwe's spin group, with John Nyumbu building upon his success in his debut Test match against South Africa and Prosper Utseya finishing as Zimbabwe's leading wicket-taker in the tournament with seven scalps at 25.71.

Only Australia's Nathan Lyon has taken as many wickets. Sean Williams has also progressed from a part-timer to a bankable third option, giving away just 3.87 runs an over. All three will be important on Zimbabwe's next engagement in Bangladesh at the end of October - and the entire team's experience against the might of Australia and South Africa should stand them in good stead.

"[This experience] has helped, but talking about Bangladesh - those are different conditions," Chigumbura said. "They play differently, so we have to adapt as well. But it's good for us to play games. The more we play, the better we'll understand our own game.

"The bowlers played a big part in all the games they played. I know in the first game we went for many runs, but looking at the wicket and also the score in the next game between South Africa and Australia, it was around 320 as well. So I thought the bowlers did well throughout the tournament, especially the spinners."

Zimbabwe's captain has also had the responsibility of guiding a couple of new players through their first steps in international cricket, with Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva and Donald Tiripano all coming into the squad. "You know, any team will have senior players, and senior players have to play that role to guide the youngsters coming through," he said. "So it's not just my responsibility, but also other guys who have been around and who have played in those conditions to help those youngsters that are just starting."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 5, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    @Lloydster. As kind as your comments and encouragement are, I would question whether cricket is "well" in Zimbabwe, even if it is definitely alive. Indeed, we now have a group of mature and talented players who can give the big teams a run for their money on their day - as we saw against Australia. But concerning is the fact that talented and experienced guys keep going elsewhere due to the lack of money and the insecurity. Keegan Meth, Kyle Jarvis, Friday Kasteni, Craig Ervine, Graeme Cremer, Taibu etc etc have all left the scene prematurely in the last couple of years. That's a huge loss. Talented youngsters also leave rather than commit (eg: Ballance).

    The admin also are not up to scratch and it is not clear that they have a good long-term plan. It's all very well now they have some cash again, but when it runs out?

    Mangongo's hard talking appears to at least be balanced by some pragmatism, but the jury is still out as to whether he can develop a good team longer term.

  • Lloyd on September 5, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    As a Saffa , I must admit Zim cricket is alive and doing well, despite the new coaches hardline approach- which was suppose to have a negative impact had the reverse effect. They could have easily picked up 2 major scalps. Hi5 to the team and coach and goodluck for the World Cup.

  • Susan on September 5, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    It was good to see Zimbabwe playing competitively especially with the ball. If the batsmen had not faltered in that match against SA where Utseya got a hattrick we could be talking about two huge scalps in the series. Still, the Aussie win is something worth celebrating. It shows Zimbabwe is somehow an underrated side that can shock anyone when all departments click.So far we have had a win against Pakistan, a very close Tests against NZ, and a decent Test against SA in the space of three years. We can only get better. What I would like to see though is Zimbabwe improving their performances away from home in alien conditions. Also I do not understand why Elton no longer bowls. He needs to work on his bowling so that he can contribute as an all-rounder so that Zimbabwe can have a long batting line-up. Strategies will also have to change for the WC with seam bowling required much more than spin for those Oz/ NZ conditions.

  • alfredo on September 4, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    Well done zim. It was good seeing vusi sibanda. Unfortunately he was run out which was the start of collapse for our guys. Well played Taylor you are of high quality.chigumbira did his job very well. Good luck in the next tour.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    Zim can hold their heads high...They were not simple pushovers...A win against Australia is great.

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