The high, a 4300km journey, and the crash – 60 hours of extremes for Zimbabwe cricket

By Danyal Rasool

The fatigue showed, the Zimbabwe players looked out of ideas and made mistakes, and blew their chance.

Sean Williams led the Zimbabwe charge, and had in Ryan Burl a competent foil  •  ICC via Getty

The high from the win over Pakistan might last a lifetime for some Zimbabwe fans, but for the players, it lasted barely 60 hours.

After that win on Thursday night in Perth, Zimbabwe celebrated, processed their emotions, packed up, made the 4300km journey to Brisbane, trained for and played the early game today.

A game they needed to win to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. It required superhuman resilience to cast aside the mental and emotional fatigue, and perform on a sleepy Brisbane afternoon as they had on that electric night in Perth.

They couldn’t. That showed in the way Zimbabwe went about the chase, several ordinary shots reducing them to 35 for 4 inside the powerplay. The decision-making around how to exploit the powerplay appeared questionable when Milton Shumba was sent out to bat at No. 3.

Shumba has the lowest T20I strike rate of all the batters in the Zimbabwe middle order, and had endured a torrid T20 World Cup, having scored 55 runs in 64 balls in five matches before this one.

A miserable stay at the crease, where he looked shot of confidence, ended with eight runs in 15 balls. There has only been one completed innings of at least 15 balls during the Super 12 stage of this World Cup with a lower strike rate.

Sean Williams, speaking after the match, defended the promotion, saying Shumba had “the ability and talent” to do the job for Zimbabwe.

“I think he strikes the ball really well. He’s a stroke-player of the ball. He plays the fast bowlers really well also. He’s a good puller of the ball,” Williams said. “I think splitting up the senior players through the batting order is an option for us, even if it just hasn’t come off for Milton in the last two games.”

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