Zimbabwe spin past the West Indies

Elton Chigumbura

I was really pleasantly surprised to see that the Twenty20 international cricket match in Trinidad between Zimbabwe and the West Indies was to be shown on Sky and just managed to convince my wife that she really didn’t need to watch Lark Rise to Candleford as is her usual Sunday evening ritual. Before the game there was plenty to be optimistic about as the West Indies have only recently returned from Australia where they were truly thumped and Zim currently have a feel good factor with many past players like Grant Flower and Heath Streak returning in coaching roles as well as guys like Ray Price and Tatenda Taibu retuning as players.

After only a few overs I started to wonder if this was really a good idea because in just 16 deliveries, Zimbabwe had already lost three wickets to the left-arm spin of Benn with no score on board! This was going to be embarrassing!! Luckily Hamilton Masakadza managed to guts it out for his 44 and there was a late onslaught from Elton Chigumbura with his 19-ball 34 and Zimbabwe managed to go from 76 for 6 in 18 overs to 105 all out. Not a great score, but at least this wasn’t going to be too embarrassing.

Before the start of the game Zimbabwe’s captain Prosper Utseya said that the spinners were one of the side’s big strengths, and this turned out to be the case with the ball turning significantly, Zimbabwe used the slow bowlers for 18 of the 20 overs! Initially things did not look great as whilst Zim’s spinners were difficult to score off, the West Indian batsmen of Adrian Barath and Shivnarine Chanderpaul negotiated the first five overs, steering West Indies to 20 for 0.

What the slow scoring did do was build some pressure on the West Indians and in a flurry of attempted big hits from their batsmen, the home side imploded. Barath was bowled in the sixth over after being beaten by the turn when looking to clear the legside boundary, Andre Fletcher picked out the deep square leg fielder with a powerful sweep in the next over, Pollard was foxed by the flight and dip of Graeme Cremer in his first attempt at a signature lofted on-drive, and Darren Bravo picked up a golden duck after the ball kept low when he was trying a Hollywood pull shot. West Indies had stumbled to 32 for 4 and then when Offspinner Greg Lamb trapped the dangerous Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw in the 12th over with a delivery that spun a lot less than the batsman expected, it was game on!

Zimbabwe had gone from disaster and possible real embarrassment, to posting a slightly respectable target and now they had a chance to win the game! The true character of all Zimbabweans fighting spirit was shining through, but I also remembered that we also have the habit of snatching defeat out of the hands of victory. Not this time – as from this stage, it was almost all Zimbabwe. Dwayne Smith threatened briefly and stand-in captain Denesh Ramdin battled till the end, but West Indies never really mounted a serious challenge. Zimbabwe had won!

Often sport is more than just a game and I just hope that with the return of the many cricketers to Zimbabwe it also means that many more of us will return to rebuild our great country, where we can all be winners.

Zimbabwe Cricket Books

Amazon, have a bunch of Zim related cricket books, including “A History of the Rhodesia and Zimbabwe National Sides” by Jonty Winch who traces the history of cricket in this country (Zimbabwe) from the first recorded game played in 1890, through two World Wars and a guerilla war, to the comparative peace of post-independence and eventual world recognition in the 1980s when Zimbabwe was able to send a side to England to take part in the I.C.C. Trophy competition which it won.

There is also the Autobiography of another great Zimbabwean cricket coach Duncan Fletcher “Behind the Shades”

USA: Amazon.com
Zimbabwe Cricket Books on Amazon.com

At the moment Amazon UK don’t have as wide selection as the US site, but I have ordered books from the US and had them delivered to the UK with no problems.

UK: Amazon.co.uk
Zimbabwe Cricket on Amazon.co.uk