Zimbabwe’s cricketing passion roars back to life
The recent roar by Zimbabwe’s Chevrons is the latest in wins for the game in the country.
In effect as recently as 2016, June to be precise sparse crowds characterized the home fixtures as one after the other India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand came, flayed and carried on.
When we had the Indian reporters on the ground, they expressed dismay, saying, there was little enjoyment found in writing about a game in a declining state.
The fans felt despondent and when we interviewed them, the reason why the team was failing remained a mystery. Some backed the team to come around while others wanted more overhauls.
Changes were happening, mostly behind the scenes. There were the ones we saw:
- A new coach
- A new managing director in Pakistani, Faisal Hasnain
- New players like Tarisai Musakanda, PJ Moor, Richard Ngarava, Ryan Burl and many more coming through the system
Meanwhile, not by design, the game was forced back onto the national television channel.
Then something clicked.
Perhaps it was the number of games the players had with the A team, in the local game and the odd associate series here and there.
It could have been what seemed at the time an exigent threat of ejection from the top table of international cricket as relegation from Test cricket was mulled.
Then came the known crippling effect of missing out on a World Cup berth and the money that comes with it.
Somewhere along the line, something clicked and players started showing up, ready for a fight. Add to that, a younger crop coming through challenging effectively for spots in what was a fragile batting lineup.
The likes of Musakanda and Burl got effective debuts and the latter looked set for something of a run until a food poisoning opened a sliver for the more who suddenly found himself in the Test side.
The social media chatter changed. The fans started believing again. And in a sport where cricket betting is available all year round, there was involvement.
With the next international assignment confirmed for October with the visit of West Indies, administrators say they are working round the clock to get some teams to come through to avoid loss of momentum.
With Ireland and Afghanistan recently getting Test status the prospects look more interesting than they did last year.
Add to that chatter of the work being done to bring stalwart Brendan Taylor and pace bowler Kyle Jarvis bring back to the fold coupled with the prospect of hosting the World Cup qualifiers in 2018, it is interesting times indeed.