World Cup snub 'still hurts' - Masakadza
Batsman Hamilton Masakadza has admitted he is yet to get over the disappointment of being left out of Zimbabwe's World Cup squad. Masakadza, whose century gave Mountaineers a first-innings lead in the Logan Cup final, insists he is determined to force his way back into the national side with Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket now just months away.
"It still hurts now," Masakadza told zimcricket.org. "The key is just to focus on what's coming up ahead and try to put it behind me. I must just try to get back into the team and get more scores for the country."
This was the third time Masakadza had missed out on a trip to the World Cup. In 2003, two years after he had scored a century on Test debut against West Indies as a 17-year-old, he was unavailable as he was at the University of the Free State in South Africa, while in 2007 the selectors did not think him suited to limited-overs cricket.
Masakadza responded by reinventing his limited-overs game, and in 2009 he scored over 1,000 runs in ODIs at an average of 43.48 and a strike rate of 88.08, including scores of 156 and 178 not out in the home series against Kenya - the first time a batsman has made 150 or more twice in the same one-day series.
He carried that form in to the first half of 2010, scoring half-centuries against India and Sri Lanka in the home tri-series, but it fell away alarmingly thereafter and he reached double-figures in just once in nine further games that year. Masakadza is unable to pinpoint exactly what went wrong.
"[I've] not really [worked it out]. I was feeling quite good, but maybe the it was the mindset sometimes, I tried to be too aggressive too early. It was a bit hard as well in South Africa because we were chasing in excess of 300 most of the time, so we didn't have time to play ourselves in. I thought maybe I played a few too many shots too early, but with the scores we were chasing I had to.
"In Bangladesh obviously there were always difficult conditions, so that's another place I didn't get too many. It also didn't help that I wasn't playing all the games. I was playing a game, then dropped for the next one, and then playing again, instead of continuity.
"But in terms of my technique, I was feeling quite good in the nets. I didn't really have a stage where I was struggling for a long period, but the runs just weren't coming. So for me it's just a case of carrying on doing those right things and it's only a matter of time before the runs start coming again."
Masakadza batted in the middle order when he was first included in Zimbabwe's one-day side, but established himself as an opener and appeared to have found a complementary partner in Brendan Taylor, with the two putting together several useful stands before Masakadza's form dipped. The failure of one or both openers was a particular worry during Zimbabwe's World Cup campaign, and Masakadza could soon find himself in the reckoning once again.
"I think I've done all the jobs for the national team: I've batted lower down and I've opened, and I think the top three would still be my best place to bat, because you get a lot more time to bat in the innings and a lot more opportunity to get bigger scores. I'm looking forward to getting back to Test cricket and playing in the longer version at the highest level again, playing some big innings for the country."