It was 1997, Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar was at the crease and on the bowling end, it was Henry Olanga, the shot gun bowler with a reputation of kneeling the batsman on ground. Everyone expected Sachin to thrash him out of the park and all of sudden, Sachin dismissed. He was caught on the crease and looked like a fool. This announced the arrival of Henry Olanga on the international forum.
He was just one gem produced by the Zimbabwe cricket. After in depth analysis, it was found, the Zimbabwe cricket has given world cricket the most innovative and unique stars, who were much ahead of the time. The 90’s era belongs to them. They revolutionized the game by giving shots like reverse sweep, scoop and multiple stances theory.
What actually happened to Zimbabwe? How a supreme cricket nation in just a span of 14 years transformed into a dismantled team.
Actual story Behind Zimbabwe Downfall
Zimbabwe was always seen as a cricket superpower of the future. The consistent performances and overseas victories were the testimonies to cherish. They actually hunted the opposition like a pack of wolves, but when everything was right on cricket field, something was wrong on administration part.
The decline actually started in 2003, when big players withdrew their names from the team due to board racist, especially anti-white policies. The movement was called “The Zimbabwean crisis”.
The Players accused the team management for being corrupt and utilizing the ICC funds for their personal use. The board tried to impose the quota system on the players. The board tried to select the player on their color rather than quality, which left the team in splits.
The white players argued about the emergence of black players in different countries. The players like Henry Olanga and Hamilton Masakadza had already cemented their place in the team. The entire team protested and wore black bands on their arm as a mark of protest during the World Cup 2003.
Due to unrest and security concerns, countries like Australia and England declined to visit Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean players slammed it as the death of democracy. Player’s identity and credibility were questioned.
Finally, in 2004, the white captain Heath Streak was sacked from the captain position and Tatenda Taibu was made the captain. Tatenda Taibu was a black guy and a perfect replacement according to the anti-white policy. Heath Streak announced his retirement in 2005.
The policy didn’t do any good and the team performance had gone from poor to worse. The rebel players were shown the gates. The period from 2003 to 2012 is considered the worst phase of Zimbabwe cricket.
Finally in 2013, Anti-white policies are curbed out and removed self-imposed ban, allowing the players to play regular test and one day cricket. Post 2013, the team played regular cricket with countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Although, they made a spectacular comeback and poor performances led to fall in rankings. They even lost to associate countries like Ireland and Netherlands making harder to regain their test status. Although, a series win in Sri Lanka gave a new life to the dying cricket.
Sportzcraazy hopes the team will rise like Phoenix from the ashes and regain the lost territory. The talent is visible, all the team need is good administration and inspirational mentoring.
The Golden Era of Zimbabwe Cricket (1995-2002)
They had the likes of Any Flower, Grant Flower, Heath Streak, Henry Olanga, Alastair Campbell, Murray Goodwin and Tatenda Taibu. During the 90’s, they were considered the master of producing setbacks. It was the period, when the Zimbabwe team started winning tests against all the nations. During the 1999 World Cup, they played well with liberation and defeated even the best. They defeated India and South Africa during the tournament, but even after playing so well they missed the semi-final spot due to poor run rate.
They beat every test playing nation consistently both at home soil and outside. The team was flourishing. The factor, which made them unique, was their innovative approach towards the game. It was Andy Flower, who introduced the reverse sweep at the crucial match and took his team to the victory. No one till date plays the shot well as he did.
By the arrival of the millennium, he was considered the best batsman in the world by many.
Interesting Facts about Zimbabwe Cricket Team
- Zimbabwe is the first team to avoid defeat in the inaugural test, rest other teams failed miserably
- Zimbabwe savored its first test victory after 11 tests by defeating Pakistan in 1995 by an innings and 64 runs in 1994-95 test series.
- Zimbabwe took 3 years to win their only second test. They defeated India in a close fought tussle in 1998-99 test series
- England never favored the bid for giving the test nation status to Zimbabwe. Ironic, but truth, England was the only team, which gave Zimbabwe their first one day series win in international cricket. Out of 6 One Day Internationals played, Zimbabwe won 5 out of 6.
- Lal Chand Rajput is the current coach of the Zimbabwe cricket team
- Logan Cup is the most famous domestic tournament for the Zimbabwe cricket
- Zimbabwe has played 106 test matches and has managed to win only 7 in total. They have won 5 test series, 2 against India and Bangladesh, 1 against Pakistan and West Indies.
- Zimbabwe has played 491 ODI’s till date and has won 129 in total.
- The highest innings total by Zimbabwe in One day Internationals is 399/2 against Pakistan in Mombasa on 20th July 2018
- Zimbabwe team lowest innings total in One Day Internationals is 35 against Sri Lanka at Harare on 25th April 2004
- Zimbabwe highest test match aggregate is 709/8 against Pakistan at Lahore on 26th May 2015
- Zimbabwe lowest test match aggregate is 75 against Sri Lanka at Harare on 25th April 2004
- The highest individual batting score record belongs to Charles Coventry in One Day Internationals. He scored 194* against Bangladesh at Bulawayo on 16th August 2009.
- DL Houghton holds the record for test score for his nation. He scored 266 runs against Sri Lanka in Bulawayo on 20th October 1994
- Andy Flower has scored the most number of runs for Zimbabwe in test cricket. He scored 4794 runs in 112 innings at a staggering average of 51.54. His highest score is 232 not out. He has scored maximum centuries for the team (12)
- Andy Flower also holds the record for most number of runs for Zimbabwe in one day cricket. He has scored 6786 runs in 208 innings at an impressive average of 35.34. His highest score is 145.
- Hamilton Masakadza holds the record for most runs in T20 cricket for Zimbabwe. He scored 1494 runs in 56 innings at an average of 27.66. His highest score is 93*
- Zimbabwe cricketer Douglas Marillier is considered the founder of scoop shot. He first played the shot against India and took his team to a thrilling victory.
- Andy Flower was the first person to have played reverse sweep in international cricket.
- Brendon Taylor has scored the most centuries for Zimbabwe in One Day Internationals (10)
- Heath Streak is the highest wicket taker for Zimbabwe in tests and one dayers. He took 216 wickets in test matches and 237 wickets in One Day Internationals.
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