BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
AS the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global sporting industry and other aspects of life, Zimbabwe cricket stalwart captain Brendan Taylor has expressed concern over the potentially damaging effect the coronavirus-induced long break could have on the national team’s performances.
Zimbabwe could turn out to be one of the biggest losers from the Covid-19 pandemic prompted break as they were anticipating a rare packed international calendar this year.
The Chevrons kicked off the year with a two-match Test series at home to Sri Lanka before touring Bangladesh for a lone Test, three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).
On the cards was another three-ODI and three-T20I home series against Ireland in Bulawayo, which would have been played last week.
There are some bilateral series against Afghanistan and Australia scheduled for June and July.
Zimbabwe are then scheduled to host India in a three-match ODI series in August and Netherlands the following month for three ODIs before a tour to Sri Lanka for three ODIs and two T20Is follow in October.
Despite the busy schedule, local players have been inactive after Zimbabwe Cricket was forced to postpone all cricket activities as the country is currently under a 21-day lockdown to stem the coronavirus outbreak while the country’s head coach Lalchand Rajput is locked up in his native India.
Taylor believes such a scenario will impact the team’s progress after getting the season off to a promising start with some solid performances against Sri Lanka before finding the going tough in Bangladesh.
“Personally, this break is not doing us any favours,” Taylor told Standardsport in an interview.
“I feel we are a team that needs to be playing more often; we’ve always been starved of cricket. This year we had a full schedule of international cricket, but that’s now been jeopardised by this pandemic. So it’s extremely frustrating and hurtful times.
“But there are people out there losing their lives and their loved ones to this terrible virus, so at the end of the cricket is not so important anymore, is it?” he said.
The 34-year-old former national captain believes the Zimbabwe side tends to perform better on a consistent basis when they play more matches over an extended period, something which they have not managed to do in recent years.
“We’d have obviously wanted to be playing, I’m sure everyone would have wanted that because in the past we gained momentum when we were playing regularly and unfortunately we’ve always been hampered by the fact that we play a series and then we don’t play for three or four months.
“[But] there’s a bigger picture here and cricket will come back eventually and when that time comes everyone will be chomping at the bit to get going,” Taylor said.
Taylor revealed that he has been using the current lockdown to spend more time with his family and also working on his fitness by following training programmes given to the players by the technical team.
“I’ve just been trying to focus on the positives, which is getting time to be with your family. As cricketers, we spend so much time away from family, so you get to appreciate being with them and use it wisely. It has taught me to do different things with my kids, which I didn’t normally do with them, think outside the box and be a little bit creative with them. It’s been a hard period no doubt, hopefully it passes,” Taylor said.
“Besides spending time with friends and family, I’ve used my time to focus on some fitness training. The lockdown is no excuse not to do anything, so our trainings have been very productive as we’ve been adhering to the programmes the coaches put out there for the players to adhere to and that’s been a lot of fun.”
Taylor said after the pandemic he was looking forward to playing an active role in coming up with initiatives to assist local communities and business, which would have been affected by the coronavirus.
“I think it’s a time where as players we can be a little more proactive, setting up GoFundMe pages trying to help the old, the homeless, and that’s a big issue in our country. When this virus comes to an end it will be nice to support local business, restaurants and other areas that are in desperate need and that’s where as players we are very lucky to be in a position to give back.”