Tour diary: Stunned on Miracle Monday
Stunned! I suppose this is the only word that can sum up the mood of the camp. "So close yet so far" -- a cliche so often used yet one which offers no help. People who read this report who do not pride themselves on knowing much about the great game will only see statistics and probably wonder to themselves how a team chasing 99 to win a game failed to do so and how a team who had controlled the game for most of the match lose one hour of the game and lose the match.
The answers do not immediately spring to mind, but I suppose that is why this is such a great game and why we as players train so hard just to take part in matches such as this. Unfortunately somebody had to lose, and on this occasion it was us. We need to feel honoured that we were able to take part in such a fascinating and thrilling Test match.
These are very philosophical words on my behalf, and the result a bitter pill to swallow, but a pill that must be digested and passed out in order for us to refocus our attention on winning the next Test match to level the series. If this match showed us anything, it was that the two teams are evenly balanced and that whoever plays the more intense and disciplined cricket will emerge on top.
Day five of the Test match started exactly as planned. Streak mopped up the last wicket in the first over over the day to have the West Indies all out for 147. Streak's figures of 5-27 was a brilliant return for some outstanding bowling. We knew the 99 needed for victory was going to be a testing target on a deteriorating wicket. The ball was staying low, sometimes running along the ground. Someone needed to get in and bat through with the rest of the team chipping in around him.
Grant Flower was doing very well, and at lunch we were 40 for 3, both Flowers at the crease. A partnership here would see us through, and we were still very much in the driving seat. What transpired in the next two hours would go down in the annals of cricket history. In the midst of some great fast bowling, a deteriorating wicket and some misfortune, we were bowled out for 63.
The sensation was numbing, but one can't help but think back to the last ball and the scenes that followed. The West Indies players were jubilant, pulling stumps out of the ground, waving their hands in the air and gathering together to run a victory lap. The crowd was probably more ecstatic than the players -- the music was raging, the spectators were dancing and hugging each other. They had waited so long for their team to do well in the face of what had happened to them in the last two years, and without Lara they thought it impossible.
People say that West Indies cricket is in a crisis, a sentiment that I partly agree with, although every nation goes through ups and downs and periods of rebuilding. But the passion that was evident on that Monday afternoon can only lead to improving times in the West Indies.
It was left for us to wonder what might have been after playing such good cricket for four days. A few interesting statistics to come out of the match were that this was the only side chasing under 100 runs in the second innings that had lost. It was the first time that Zimbabwe have been bowled out for under 100 in Test matches. A few other interesting facts were that the last 17 wickets fell for 93 runs, an indication of how the pitch played. And the last fact that made us feel a little better was that in the last Test match played at this ground, the West Indies were bowled out for 51 by Australia in their second innings.
What is left is for us to put what happened firmly behind us and take the numerous positives from the game into our next game. If you keep doing the right things, everything will come right. This is my firm belief, and hopefully in the next Test match, due to start on Friday in Jamaica, we will be on the right side of what the papers here have dubbed "Miracle Monday".