Most of the attention in Zimbabwe cricket this last week has been centred on their performances in the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.
After a long break, we hoped the team would be fresh and ready to go, but unfortunately it didn't work out like that. The engine is running in fits and starts, with the bowling being the most disappointing area. We have seen our team play brilliantly, but apart from a brave run chase against India - led of course by the incomparable Andy Flower - they did not play to the high standards we know they can obtain. Assessments of the matches against India and England are included in this issue.
In one way I feel this tournament could have been organized better. That regards the fixture list. Long before the group matches were concluded, Australia and Sri Lanka are in the semi-finals, South Africa are virtually assured of a place, and the only match with any real significance is that between England and India for the remaining semi-final place.
That means there are quite a number of meaningless matches, mostly involving the minnows Bangladesh, Kenya and Holland, remaining before the semi-finals start. The crucial matches between the two strongest teams in each group were played early on, when they should have been used as likely deciders, as England v India will be. Perhaps the fixtures were drawn up in this way to stimulate early local interest in the tournament, or perhaps it was done to put less pressure on the likely semi-final teams. Perhaps they just came out of the hat that way.
In future, I would suggest that the weakest team in each group - which would include Zimbabwe - get their matches over with early. The likelihood is that the bigger guns will beat them, and each of the final group matches will be in effect a quarterfinal, with a semi-final place dependent on the result. This will sustain interest, which will otherwise be lost in a series of dead matches.
Closer to home, this issue includes a report on the Africa Cup competition held in Lusaka recently, after an interview with manager Kish Gokal, and reports on the Vigne Cup and provincial cricket. Gus Mackay, recently appointed general manager of the Mashonaland Cricket Association, talks about his job in a major article. We also include an interview with Australian James McMaster, a strong ZCO supporter, who is visiting Zimbabwe for the first time and has some interesting observations to make.