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ZCO editorial, volume 3 issue 26

Lost with honour

John Ward
Lost with honour. Perhaps that was the best we could realistically hope for in India, and by winning two of the one-day matches, twice taking the lead in the series, our team did better than anybody reasonably expected. Against a team representing over 1000 million people with home advantage, it was a superb effort.
In the end it was the strength of the Indian middle order, and the lack of depth in our bowling, that decided the series. Without Sachin Tendulkar, resting a knee injury, the Indian batsmen had to take responsibility, and young players Dinesh Mongia, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh all batted superbly. We did not have the bowling strength, especially in the spin department, to overcome them.
Our batsmen did a fine job, Alistair Campbell leading the way with three fifties in the five matches. Although they do help spin, most Indian pitches are good for batting, but when India bat first and score over 300, we are in trouble. India's scores of 319 for six and then 333 for six in the second and fifth matches are, with the exception of South Africa's 363 in September, the highest totals against Zimbabwe in our history of 212 one-day matches. Therefore the three highest totals scored off our bowlers have all been scored in the last six months, which is a worry.
In the final one-day international, as we were chasing 333 and the task became progressively more difficult, I could not help asking, "Where is Doug Marillier?" The odds were very much against his playing another blinding innings, but he was the one player who could, who might just have scored runs quickly enough at least to bring Zimbabwe close. The time to send him in is when the task is difficult, not when it is impossible. But he only came in at his usual number eight, when it really was impossible. There seemed to be a lack of flexibility here, when there was at least nothing to lose by sending him in earlier, and this was noted by the television commentators.
In my opinion, the team gets nothing but a brickbat for their failure to bowl their overs within the required rate, resulting in their chasing 333 in 48 rather than 50 overs. In pre-Test days, Zimbabwe used to bowl their overs at a pretty good rate, well above the 15 generally required by regulations. Slowing the over rate is one of the bad habits picked up since we joined the big boys, and now we are so bad we get penalized two overs - and it wasn't the first time it happened during the series. Conceding large numbers of extras is another bad habit, although it wasn't at its worst in this series.
Back home we had behaviour problems in the Logan Cup match between Midlands and Mashonaland A at Kwekwe. According to Mike Huggett, "This morning there was quite a lot of aggro shown on the field, particularly from Vermeulen to Price. Things reached boiling point when an Utseya delivery came off Price's thigh pad and all behind the stumps appealed. The decision was not out and Vermeulen just rushed up to Price and shoved him out of his crease and started swearing at him and calling him a cheat and saying that he nicked the ball."
Mark Vermeulen is making a name for himself as a player with behavioural problems, which attracted adverse comment in Mashonaland A's previous match against the CFX Academy. As a schoolboy he was actually banned from cricket and expelled from his sports club when he blew a fuse on the field, and now those same tendencies seem to be reasserting themselves. Off the field he invariably appears to be calm, controlled and friendly, the last person one would expect to misbehave on it. Yet it is happening, and he is by no means the only one, especially in Mashonaland. Sadly, it looks as if the time is coming when match referees will be needed in domestic cricket.
In this issue we bring you further biographies of Academy players, this time Vusi Sibanda and Arnold Rushambwa, as well as what will probably be (hopefully not) the final update of Everton Matambanadzo's biography. We have also updated the records of all the 41 one-day internationals that have now been played between Zimbabwe and India.