A silver lining in Zimbabwe cricket

THE historic victory by Zimbabwe’s cricket team against Pakistan on Saturday once again proved that there is abundance of sporting talent in this country.

Saturday’s success was Zimbabwe’s first Test win over any team except Bangladesh since 2001. The victory was Zimbabwe’s third against Pakistan in Tests, but first since 1998 and the long wait could be attributed to the debilitating crisis that hit local cricket soon after that feat.

Zimbabwe’s last win over one of the world’s top Test-playing nations was against India in 2001, though they have beaten Bangladesh on four occasions since.

The latest amazing victory was achieved despite the problems that rocked the Zimbabwe team in the middle of the Pakistan tour with players threatening to boycott the second Test over unpaid salaries.

Kyle Jarvis, a key member of the team’s bowling line-up, announced his retirement from international cricket on the eve of the Pakistan series.

Zimbabwe Cricket is wallowing in debt and cannot pay players on time. A number of experienced players and coaches have in the past few years turned their backs on Zimbabwe because of the money problems and political fights.

Zimbabwe is also without a bowling coach after Heath Streak was laid off in April ahead of the Bangadesh tour.

However, the fact the win against Pakistan was spearheaded by 21-year-old Tendai Chitara from Mutare must reassure all those worried about the future of cricket in Zimbabwe.

Chitara hails from a city not known to have produced cricket greats in the past as the game has always been dominated by Bulawayo and Harare players.

He is a product of Zimbabwe Cricket’s development programmes that have helped spread the game to previously disadvantaged areas.

Clearly the programme is paying off with the emergence of talented players such as Chitara and Brian Vitori.

The fact that the game has survived all this turmoil is testament to the fighting spirit evident in most Zimbabweans and the undeniable rich talent across the country.

However, administrators and politicians have always been the stumbling block to Zimbabwe’s emergence as a great sporting nation.

A number of national teams across the world in sports such as rugby and cricket have become big beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s talent identification programmes with local players opting to represent other countries.

It is high time that our administrators came to the party and complemented the talent in various sporting disciplines so Zimbabwe can take on the world in sports.

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