While the Zimbabwe cricket team has made public its intention to fight for a top eight finish at the forthcoming ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, local fans are asking for far much less from the flagship cricket side.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
The national team, which left the country on Wednesday for New Zealand albeit a stopover in Australia, had an opportunity to mix and mingle with their followers at Town House in a Zimbabwe Cricket organised “Meet-The-Fans” event a day earlier.
Speaking to Standardsport on the side-lines of the low-key event, Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Association chairman Vivian Banhire said:
“We know very well that we are not a big team at the World Cup so, as fans, we are not going to ask the team to win the World Cup, or to finish in the top eight. All we need is for them to be competitive against bigger opposition and top sides.’’
“As cricket fans, we are 90% happy with what ZC has been doing lately. They have shown a lot of seriousness by engaging an experienced coach such as Dav Whatmore who has won the World Cup before and also bringing in Alistair Campbell into the set up. We are happy with all that they are promising. Hopefully they will deliver this time.
“We would have been more happy if they had organised more international fixtures in December and January to help the team prepare for the World Cup,’’ he said.
Zimbabwe has clearly lost its competitive edge against top teams in recent years and the 2011 ICC World Cup is an epitome of how feeble the southern African state has become, especially at the global showpiece.
Against Test playing countries at the last World Cup, Zimbabwe lost by 91 runs to Australia before a mediocre 10 wicket drubbing by New Zealand, then a 139 run defeat to Sri Lanka and a seven wicket loss to Pakistan completed the country’s misery.
This time around Dav Whatmore’s charges have been drawn in Pool B, alongside the trailblazing South Africa, defending champions India, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and UAE.
Interestingly Whatmore — who was part of the festivities at Town House — remained bullish on his team’s ability to achieve the set target.
“Our team is well capable of making the super eight at this World Cup which is our objective. We can achieve that by winning at least three of our group stage games and that’s exactly what we are going to try and do.
“I can assure you that the team will bat a lot better than they did in Bangladesh because it’s a totally different set of conditions, and remember, we are going to play many opponents who will not be playing at home either,’’ Whatmore remarked.
Six players from the last World Cup, namely Elton Chigumbura, Regis Chakabva, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Tinashe Panyangarara and Prosper Utseya, are part of the squad for the ODI cricket extravaganza.
New Zealand and Australia host the 11th ICC ODI Cricket World Cup which kicks off on the 14th of February.