Zimbabwe v India, 3rd ODI, Harare July 28, 2013

'I don't think we're mentally sharp enough' - Brendan Taylor


It's an old adage that cricket is a game played mostly in the mind. With India having cruised to an unassailable 3-0 series lead, Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor identified his team's major weakness as their mental frailty under pressure.

"I think [the problem is] mental toughness," Taylor said. "I don't think we're mentally sharp enough. We're just not making the precise decisions at the right time and not putting a real price on our wickets. Too many soft dismissals.

"We all know in the mornings it's a little tricky [to bat] but technically we haven't been good enough. The Indian bowlers, they just keep it nice and simple. They don't give you too much to hit, but if we can get through that initial period and keep wickets in hand there's no reason why we can't catch up and post a decent total."

Taylor is Zimbabwe's most accomplished batsman and part of the reason for their collective failure has been his personal one. In his last eight innings, Taylor has a top score of just 40 and in this series has had to juggle batting, captaining and keeping wicket. He is not panicking yet, though. "I'm a player who hits an extremely large amount of balls when I practice," he said. "It's just [about] continuing to do those things and try to prepare well every game and I'm a believer that if you do that a big score's not too far away."

In all three games so far, Zimbabwe's batting has faltered at crucial moments. In the first match, they lost regular wickets while they should have been accumulating in the middle of their innings, while in the second the middle order frittered away a good start to the chase. Sunday's defeat was the heaviest, but Taylor identified the second defeat as the hardest to stomach.

"The most difficult one for me was the second game when we had an opportunity to win that game, and we dropped Dhawan and we dropped plenty of chances and allowed them to get to 290," he said. "It would have been a different story if we'd caught our catches and probably chased 230-240, we would have gone about our chase a lot differently. It's very frustrating to see, knowing our batting ability and not getting the runs that we know we can get."

Sunday's defeat was also played out in front of the largest crowd of the series. Though the grandstands weren't full, almost all of the smaller stands and the grass banks were. A boisterous crowd weren't given too much to applaud - though they did enjoy the obdurate efforts of Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori with the bat.

"It hurts," Taylor admitted. "It does hurt because they are passionate and they want us to do well, and today it was a bit disheartening to play the way we have played. But fortunately there's more cricket coming up and we haven't played our best cricket here but hopefully we can give the people of Bulawayo something to smile about.

"There's always pride [to play for]. We use that word a lot, because it's a privilege to represent your country. Just to be playing against the best team in the world, that's an honour in itself."

The series now moves to Bulawayo for the final two matches. While conditions will be similar to Harare and the games will start just as early, the Queens Sports Club pitch has a reputation of being easier to bat on.

"Bulawayo is a bit more friendly in the morning to the batters, though there was a bit there against Bangladesh not too long ago so each side may have to be up against the ball nipping around a little bit," Taylor said. "But that generally burns off pretty quickly and then it gets really good to bat on."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • tvumpire.com on July 31, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    But still I think ZIM is far batter than some 'home lions' who is relaying on just 3 senior players! They do not have to worry about this series loss as the lost against the world no:1 team - even if a 2nd string of players. ZIM able to put up good total even if the top order fails. That is a positive.

  • vsssarma on July 30, 2013, 15:54 GMT

    ZIM may have to select a team based on performances and also experience. I suggest that the team may consist of:

    Sibanda; Taylor; Hamilton Masakadza; Waller; Chibhabha; Chigumbura; Mutizwa; Utseya: Chatara; Vitori; Mpofu.

  • dummy4fb on July 30, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    please ZCU select the following team

    1.Sibanda 2.Masakadza 3.Taylor(capt) 4.craig ervine 5.Sean williams 6.coventry(wK) 7.Chigumbura 8.prosper utseya 9.Jarvis 10.mpofu 11.vitori

    Reserves 1.Malcom waller 2.Glen Querl 3.Sikandar Raza 4.Graeme Cremer 5.Shingi Masakadza

  • VVSR92 on July 29, 2013, 18:36 GMT

    brendon is the best player by far zim has got in thier country from past 5-6 years , he should be opening the innings & get big runs for zim though that may not be the change to make them win vs Ind it would certainly increase their chnces .

  • khiladisher on July 29, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    World Champions India having won the ChampionsTrophy,Celkon Tri-Series and now thrashing Zimbabwe 3-0 with a very young rookie team have shown that there is a big gulf between them and the other teams.The other teams like South Africa,Australia and England have let their standards drop alarmingly in the ONE DAY FORMAT thereby there IS NO CHALLENGE FOR INDIA AT ALL.INDIA LOOK LIKE BEING THE # 1 TEAM IN ONE DAY CRICKET FOR A LONG TIME,HAVING THE MOST FORMIDABLE BATTING LINE UP AT PRESENT AS WELL AS DECENT BOWLERS(BHUVANESH KUMAR and ASHWIN BEING TOP CLASS) AND VERY GOOD YOUNG FIELDERS.

  • dummy4fb on July 29, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    With all respects to Zimbabwe, I agree with Taylor. Zimbabwe are NOT tough by any means. They lack the mental courage, patience, and skill level to compete with India. This was expected given the gulf in class between the two teams. But Zimbabwe simply threw it away without any fight. In 2 of the 3 games, they were in positions from where they could have put India under pressure. They just blew both opportunities. Their bowlers bowled very well, but their batting leaves a lot to be desired. In the coming 2 games, it seems conditions in Bulawayo are going to be sub-continental like, which will make India even bigger favourites to whitewash the home team. So Zimbabwe have to bring home their 'A' game if they are to put any ounce of pressure on India.

  • bleedblue_sach on July 29, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Campbell, Neil Johnson, Olanga... a lot such names I remember in the Zimbabwen cricket... The current team is not well situated to carry the legacy though. Wish better performance in coming seasons.. good luck guys

  • ZCFOutkast on July 29, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Taylor, Vusi, Hami, Elton, Vitori&Utseya are definites, and they provide a good backbone for the side in terms of 3 quality batsmen, a top allrounder, excellent strike seamer, and effective containing spinner. The problem lies in the other characters thrown into the side. Recent history proves that Williams doesn't care much&does as he pleases, so you can't have that kind of mentality around the team.

    I've said this many times before that there are too many things behind the scenes affecting Zimbabwe Cricket. Mature, experienced, top Zim seamers in the form of Mupariwa, Mpofu&Rainsford should've been part of the side but they are ignored for the wrong reasons-Streak.

    Certain players decide where they bat! Raza is not an opener, he should be a middle order finisher, but because the desire is to protect spots in the middle order for certain favourites, he was sacrificed in the top order.

    Anti, talking nonsense again. Matsi has not been tried in the last 5 years - at home at least!

  • dummy4fb on July 28, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    Since India will be testing their bench strength now, Zim has some good chances of wins ahead. I hope we get to see Parvez and Mohit.