Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 1st Test, Harare August 8, 2005

Leading Zimbabwe journalist slams performance

Cricinfo staff



Chris Martin strikes during New Zealand's two-day win © AFP
The pressure on the ICC to review Zimbabwe's Test status will increase after the two-day farce at Harare Sports Club, and even Zimbabwe's government-backed Herald newspaper appears to have had enough.

In a stinging rebuke, Lawrence Moyo, who last month won the award as Zimbabwe's Cricket Writer of the Year for the third time in succession, said that it was time to look long and hard at the situation.

"Those who thought Zimbabwe's cricket had sunk to its lowest last year after the much-publicised rebel saga needed to be at Harare Sports Club yesterday to see the national team suffering their worst Test defeat in history," he wrote. "If what was on display is to be reviewed at the highest level, then Zimbabwe should not be playing Test matches in the interests of the world's Test match standards.

"It was so terrible that one-day international prospects like Stuart Matsikenyeri, Gavin Ewing, and Mark Vermeulen offered better batting while facing throw downs in the nets. Those concentrating on the proceedings on the real field were offered better value for their day by the security guards marching to the wicket at the end of the day's two sessions and also for the innings break after Zimbabwe's first innings ended."

Whereas criticism has until now been dismissed by the authorities as being racially or politically motivated, Moyo's comments cannot be so easily brushed aside and are sure to cause ructions inside Zimbabwe Cricket.

Referring to Geoff Boycott's comments last month that Zimbabwe should be stripped of their Test status, Moyo admitted that "we thought [his] assessment bordered on racism and dismissed it as cheap talk ... we thought his position on Zimbabwe was not fair given that they had been fielding a team full of inexperienced teenagers who needed at least two more years to be fully competitive and we wanted him to wait for the New Zealand tour now that experienced players had returned to the fold. Barring the injured bowling pair of Tinashe Panyangara and Douglas Hondo, Zimbabwe were fielding their strongest Test team but now it will be remembered as the worst team this country has ever produced."

In a country where anti-establishment views are not widely tolerated, Moyo's comments are courageous, and they might make people who have so far dismissed Zimbabwe's rapidly deteriorating performances as a minor hiccup sit up and take notice