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Zimbabwe Cricket Online volume 4, issue 3, 26 September 2002

We can only shake our heads at Zimbabwe's ill fortune

John Ward
We can only shake our heads at Zimbabwe's ill fortune. Heath Streak is out of the Pakistan series after dislocating his shoulder. Our one world-class bowler - although he did not look it in Sri Lanka, unfortunately - and our newly appointed captain. Will Stuart Carlisle be prevailed upon to take over again as a stop-gap?
CONTENTS Streak was probably bored, and fed up with the constant attendance of security guards, whom apparently he did not consult before leaving his hotel. In Zimbabwe they would be quite unnecessary, in spite of what the Australians may think. It really does not seem very satisfactory for the Zimbabwe team to be kept hanging around in Sri Lanka for a full week after being knocked out of the tournament. They were due back only on the afternoon of Thursday 26 September.
In the meantime, hopefully some of them took time to study those who will be their opponents in the World Cup later in the season. There are always some new players they have not played against before, and it would be time well spent to check them out in advance.
Most of the matches played during the past few days have been `dead matches', with teams that have already qualified or already been knocked out playing the minnows of the tournament. Certainly one batsman who impressed whoever the opposition was Steve Tikolo from Kenya, who seemed at times almost to be doing an Andy Flower job for his team. He is surely the best batsman in the world today who has not played Test cricket.
At the age of 31, will he ever play Test cricket? He deserves to, but in my opinion Kenya is not yet strong or experienced enough to deserve Test status. Bangladesh have been taken to the cleaners time and again during their brief time as a full member country, and Kenya would probably have the same happen to them were they promoted next year. Apart from Thomas Odoyo, Kenya's leading players are all about the 30-mark, have been the backbone of the team for several years, and their futures are limited. Their batting is strong but their bowling is frighteningly weak by international standards.
I feel the ICC must to a large extent take responsibility for Bangladesh's traumas and Kenya's unreadiness. Very little was done to give Bangladesh experience in the longer game before plunging them into Test cricket. Of the Bangladeshis, not a single one of their players had even ten first-class games to his credit before their promotion. Of the Kenyans, only Tikolo has achieved that number, and that only because he had a season with Border in South Africa.
How could the ICC possibly have plunged Bangladesh into Test cricket with such totally inadequate preparation? Zimbabwe were much better off, as we had two international touring teams to play first-class cricket in our country every season since we left the Currie Cup at independence in 1980. We created history by becoming the first new country not to lose its inaugural Test. Our preparation was thanks to the foresight of our administrators. That did not happen with Bangladesh and it is not happening with Kenya.
Bangladesh visit South Africa next month, where they can expect to be massacred, and Australia before too long. They will continue to suffer much humiliation. Had they been given the opportunity to prepare adequately in first-class cricket against quality opponents, at least they would have competed, as Zimbabwe did in virtually all our first few Test matches - in fact, our record then was better in some ways than our record over the last three years.
Kenya have called for more international matches for their team, and Zimbabwe has responded by inviting them to tour here in December for five one-day internationals. Kenya are much better at the one-day game, and Zimbabwe may well slip up if they are not careful and lose their first official match against a non-Test team. Let us hope for good weather, good cricket and good crowds - and good experience for the Kenyans. But it will not help them much towards being competitive at Test level, if they are awarded full membership next year, as is their aim.
On a final note, how refreshing it was to see the Dutch batsman walking when they knew they were out, instead of hanging around in the hope the umpire would blunder! Would that the Test-playing countries, Zimbabwe included, would play with such honesty.
This week, we include two interviews in our list of contents. Brian Murphy is on the comeback trail and he has enjoyed an excellent start with the bat in league cricket. And we somehow missed interviewing Academy student, former classmate of Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza, earlier in the year, so we put that right this time by producing a brief biography of this pleasant and promising player.
Here is the National League fixture list for this Sunday, 29 September (home teams first):
Alexandra Sports Club v Old Hararians
Mutare Sports Club v Takashinga
Old Georgians v Kwekwe
Queens v Bulawayo Athletic Club
Universals v Harare Sports Club
Unfortunately no points table has yet been received, but Mutare, Takashinga (who clash on Sunday) and Universals have all won both their matches to date.