Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare September 1, 2013

Weakened bowling a concern for Zimbabwe

Clashes with the board over payments may have left the Test series in doubt, but it has also affected the morale of Zimbabwe players. With the absence of key performers like Kyle Jarvis, the two Tests against Pakistan will test the hosts' bowling

Andy Waller must have more on his mind than the average coach ahead of Zimbabwe's two-Test series against Pakistan. For a start, he will be wondering if the series will even go ahead.

Zimbabwe's newly-formed players' union may yet boycott the matches, as they have been threatening to do since Pakistan arrived in the country more than two weeks' ago, because of non-payment of salaries. The players have not received their July or August remuneration or the match fees they negotiated with ZC, despite being promised the monies would be transferred into their accounts last Thursday. They have given ZC until Monday to pay up or they will not take the field in whites on Tuesday.

Earlier, the players had also said that they would not take part in the T20s or the third ODI, but they reached an agreement with ZC at the 11th hour. An insider believes this will not happen again. The source told ESPNcricinfo the players are likely to stop crying wolf and follow through with their ultimatum this time. Even Waller seems to think the payments issue will have an effect on the Tests.

"I think the unhappiness over payments will spill into the series, unfortunately. I don't think it has been solved yet," he said. "I am not a 100% sure exactly, but I am under the impression that nothing's definite yet."

Waller, like the rest of us, will have to wait to hear their final decision, but he will also contemplate how to get the best of a clearly disgruntled group if they opt to compete. Even though Zimbabwe found it in themselves to win the first ODI against Pakistan, they have not fared well recently and were defeated in all nine matches - five ODIs against India, two T20s and two ODIs against Pakistan - in which Waller has been in charge.

He has not coached them in a Test yet, but has already seen enough to know what Zimbabwe's biggest challenge will be. "The main concern I have is probably on the bowling side: how are we going to get 20 wickets?," he asked after the third ODI. Zimbabwe have not bowled a team out once since Waller took over so to expect them to do it twice will be a tough ask. To ask them to do it twice without two of the most attacking bowlers may well be a bridge too far.

"I am not saying our bowlers aren't good but we've lost someone like Kyle Jarvis, who could bowl with a bit of pace and swing the ball, and Graeme Cremer, who's a quality legspinner," he said.

Jarvis retired from international cricket on the eve of the Pakistan series, saying the cash-flow situation had made it impossible for him to continue playing for Zimbabwe, while Cremer made himself unavailable during the Bulawayo leg of the India tour. ESPNcricinfo understands Cremer does not want to be considered for Zimbabwe until he is paid monies owed to him and is assured of financial security going forward.

That leaves the rest with a lot more responsibility and not a lot of experience to bank on. Brian Vitori, who partnered Jarvis and even outshone him on Zimbabwe's Test comeback, will likely have to lead the attack as the one of the most experienced men, with just three caps. He has not played the longest form in 18 months since January last year. Despite a promising start to Test cricket, injuries and a lack of form have hampered his progress.

Shingi Masakadza and Tinashe Panyangara have also played a trio of Tests each - Panyangara more than eight years ago in 2005 - but both have shown fairly good control in the lead-up. Much is expected from young Tendai Chatara, who impressed in West Indies earlier this year, and Zimbabwe will have to take a gamble on the kind of spinner they are going to use.

Without Cremer, their attacking options will be between Natsai Mushangwe and Tinotenda Mutombodzi but they could go for the safety of a containing bowler instead. Prosper Utseya is their leading offspinner and has the experience of years and captaincy behind him to add solidity to an otherwise fragile attack.

All Waller can do is be optimistic. "I still believe our bowlers can go out and do the job," he said, although he confined that to doing it in the first match. "Bulawayo will be difficult because it's a batting paradise down there and we know the quality of the Pakistan batting, so we are going to have to do something exceptional to beat them down there. If we are going to beat them, I think it's going to have to be at Harare, on a wicket that will give us more of a chance."

Efforts have been made at Queens Club - where Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in 2011 - to ensure it is less flat and new clay has been laid on three of the pitches on the square . However, whether Zimbabwe will even get down to Bulawayo to play will depend on how quickly ZC can come up with cash and how seriously the players' union wants to flex its muscles.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Eugene on September 3, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    Cremer is a big loss, Prosper won't threated anyone and Maruma doesn't bowl anymore. Without Jarvis our pace attack looks very toothless. Panyangara will trundle in and get maybe 1 wicket if he is lucky.

  • Jon on September 2, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    @ZFCOutkast, why do you hide behind a pseudonym? It seems to me that you could be a ZC insider with some very specific agendas. Have you ever played the game or coached a side at this level - either with or without pay?

  • ZCF on September 2, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    @Julian, if Panyangara did not look like taking a wicket then that's only because you didn't watch him bowl. Easily four catches were dropped off him. His best(first match) was far better than the best performance from any other Zim or Pak seamer throughout the series. @Sid Utseya thoroughly outbowled Cremer when in a spinners' paradise against WI earlier this year. Truly speaking, Cremer's bowling was so pathetic it brought one to tears and made a mockery of leg spin at international level. This was even more damning to the profession after Tahir likewise murderred the art. If there are options in Zim to whom we can trust to redeem we can look no further than Mushangwe, Mutombodzi and Maruma. If people are uncomfortable with Utseya then we can go with young offspinner Mugava who outbowled Cremer at their FC franchise almost everytime they walked onto the pitch together. Lay off Utseya. Besides, Price&Mutombodzi both bowled with him at their franchise and he was streets ahead of both.

  • siddhartha on September 2, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    Playing Utseya as the leading spinner will be a mistake. He is not a wicket taking bowler. Where is Creamer?

    My XI- Mawoyo,Sibanda,Raza,Taylor,Masakadza,Williams,Waller, Chigumbura,Utseya,Shingi,Chatara

  • Julian on September 2, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    Panyangara never looked like taking a wicket in the ODI's he will be ineffective in the tests . With Zimbabwe's leading seamer and spinner ( Jarvis & Cremer ) unavailable I can't see them bowling out Pakistan Twice in a match especially if Utseya & Panyangara are picked. Shingi and Chatara will have to carry the team with Vitori not fit enough for tests and Ed Rainsford not being considered for selection. With the Players Union threatening to strike the side could become even more depleted the likes of Cremer and Jarvis have already pulled out and others like Williams, Raza and Taylor may also follow if they're not paid we could be looking at a very depleted side much like the one who took the field against SL in 04 following the original player rebellion.

  • syed naveed on September 1, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    players payment issue of Zim players is their personal issue,it should not have happened in the first place. however , if their players don't take the field in the test matches than a 2nd eleven Zim eleven should be selected that should take the field ,and if this is not possible than both the test matches should be awarded to Pak as winners,as they are in Zim and were present in the field to play , the same way as that oval test was awarded to the Eng side ,when Pak refused to take the field.the series should not be termed as cancelled at all. but we all know ICC will not do it ?.i remember , when kerry packer started the series, we saw new faces in the WI , Aus and some other sides, even some players were recalled ,like bobby simpson to fill the place in the national side for Aus , the test and one day series during that period were not cancelled, and it should be done here again.

  • Dummy4 on September 1, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Kyle Jarvis's absense iis good for Pakistan in the test matches against Zimbawawe..........

  • ZCF on September 1, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    This is precisely why I don't rate rate Andy Waller as a coach! Contrary to his reasoning, Cremer's absence is a blessing in disguise. He has been horrible for us - expensive&ineffective! If ever there was a match which proved that Kyle Jarvis is overrated, it was that same match against Pakistan (& of course against NZ in NZ conditions helpful to seamers).

    One will remember that Vitori was also ineffective against Pakistan in that match. He has tremendous natural talent & on his day he can trouble anyone, but fears about his stamina should not be taken lightly. Sadly similar concerns about Chatara exist.

    First match I would throw in a surprise Chinouya instead. His pace, bounce & energy will trouble any subcontinent batsmen. Shingi was our star bowler against Bangladesh recently, and he's proven his durability. My qualified admiration for Panyangara is an open secret. Utseya is a no brainer.

    Mawoyo,Vusi,Hami,Taylor,Williams,Elton,Mutumbami(wk),Utseya, Shingi, Panyangara, Chinouya!

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