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Zimbabwe were giddy in the immediate aftermath of beating Bangladesh on their return to Test cricket, but there were no over-the-top celebrations
Firdose Moonda at Harare
August 8, 2011
Had the stadium been full, the stage higher, the series longer or the occasion a little bigger, this would still not have been a shred more special than it was. At the Harare Sports Club, in front of little more than 150 people, Zimbabwe made history.
Thankfully, no one could complain that the music wasn't loud enough. If anything creates atmosphere, especially in Africa, its beats, melodies, harmonies, drums, voices and rhythms. It's the sound of protest, of the army training in the early morning, of sadness, of hope and today, of joy. As Zimbabwe claimed the last wicket, minutes after lunch, Kool and the Gang told them to "celebrate good times, come on".
Then, as the players began their victory lap, a Shona song, filled with all the familiar jingles of traditional music, was played. While the team went around the field, Zimbabwean flags being used as capes, their clapping hands adding to the music and they were received like conquering warriors. Unlike so many of the country's battles, this one was not bloody but it still involved some bravery, a heap of commitment and above all, passion.
The word has been used with such regularity by cricketers that allowing it to describe what has happened over the past five days seems somewhat artificial. There is something more sincere about its Zimbabwean form; it's not bullish, like South Africa's "We're no chokers," stance or theatrical like MS Dhoni's references to car and engines during the World Cup. It's raw and that's what makes it real.
The players drenched each other in any alcoholic beverage they could find but after the post-match press conference, things settled down. The first to make his appearance was the coach, Alan Butcher, wearing a collared, blue shirt, having removed his beer drenched training kit. He strolled across the boundary, popped across to the open area and sat down to sip on white wine. Ray Price followed, his three-year old daughter on his hip. Chris Mpofu was next, a colourful scarf around his neck and sunglasses covering his eyes. Brendan Taylor joined up with his girlfriend, Craig Ervine and 12th man Malcolm Waller had a drink at the bar and eventually Heath Streak, in shorts and a t-shirt, and Alistair Campbell sat on the deck, engaged in a casual chat.
The Maiden pub continued serving its regular clientele, many of whom didn't seem to care that a victorious national team was celebrating at the same venue. Burgers were served and eaten, beers were drunk, cigarettes were smoked and in the far corner, pool was played. If ever anyone wondered why Zimbabwe cricketers are so humble, they need only look at this scene to understand it.
There were a couple of well-dones said and hands shaken, but what it was really about was normal people having a relaxing time. In any other country it may have been the scene of the aftermath of a club match. Had it been any different, it would have lost that little something that made it so special.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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