Lou Vincent: filled his boots while he could © AFP
The chickens finally came home to roost at Bulawayo today as Zimbabwe's limitations were clinically and savagely exposed by New Zealand in the opening match of the Videocon triangular series. Had a damp pitch not delayed the start and reduced the game to 44 overs a side, the record books would have taken even more of a hammering than they did anyway.

Those - and they are growing in number - who have been advocating that Zimbabwe's international status should be either suspended or revoked have warned that the day would come when records would tumble. So bad, they argued, had Zimbabwe become, that the integrity of international cricket was being risked because of the ICC's steadfast refusal to address the situation.

Today that day arrived. The only blessing, aside from the loss of the six overs which spared Zimbabwe even more punishment, was that it was in a one-day international which few around the world would have bothered to watch.

Until recent weeks Zimbabwe cricket has presented a largely unified public face in response to pressure from without. But, almost inevitably given the on-field shambles, cracks are now appearing. Board officials have sniped at selectors, selectors at coaches, and the players are being lambasted. Even the hitherto supportive media, which is almost without exception controlled by the government, is turning on the embattled Zimbabwe Cricket. Last week's dismissal of Phil Simmons as coach was delivering the public a head on a salver, but it won't make any real difference to side's rapid decline.

And yet even the thousand or so diehards who turned up at Queens Sports Club could not have expected such a one-sided encounter. From the moment Tatenda Taibu won the toss and asked New Zealand to bat, hoping to exploit any remaining moisture in the pitch, it was slaughter. Zimbabwe did not have a bad day at the office. It wasn't just that they were against a better side. They were comprehensively and brutally outclassed. And what's more, this is no longer a side robbed of their best players by a strike. This is as good as it gets.

As one of the few onlookers said: "These guys aren't even good enough to get in a poor county second XI." Another commented that the Zimbabwe fielders looked uninterested. Perhaps exhausted after a series of seemingly endless beatings might have been a more accurate description. It would have left Kevin Curran, whose first match this was as Zimbabwe's new coach, in no doubt as to the magnitude of the task in hand.

There was little sign of unrest, although the police who led one supporter away early on in the New Zealand innings decided on a punishment cruel even by their standards. They escorted him back into the ground.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo