Runs, wickets and good cricket . . . lessons for Zimbabwean school kids


Runs, wickets and good cricket . . . lessons for Zimbabwean school kids

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 20, 2018

    Robson Sharuko

    Harare – The high-stakes battle for a place at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup is well and truly underway here in Zimbabwe, with some explosive centuries, inspired bowling performances and a number of shock results having been posted in the first week of the tournament.   

    A dramatic two-run defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday, a collapse of monumental proportions after they had appeared to be coasting to a routine victory, grabbed headlines around the world.

    But it was their defeat, in their opening game against Scotland, which was quite a huge shock with the Scots outplaying their rivals by dismissing them cheaply and then riding on a mammoth 200-run partnership en-route to a seven-wicket victory.

    Yet everything seemed to be on course when a hat-trick by fast bowler Dawlat Zadran powered them to a 29-run victory over two-time World Champions, West Indies, in a high-profile warm-up match here in Harare.

    But they soon got a reality check that it will take more than just their mere profile, and status, as one of the favourites to make it to the World Cup after their mauling at the hands of the Scots in the first game.

    “The wicket was difficult to bat on, it wasn’t coming good onto the bat,” Rashid Khan, the 19-year-old Afghanistan captain who became the youngest player to lead a team at international level after regular captain Asghar Stanikzai was diagonised of appendicitis in Harare, said.

    “Later on when the sun came out, it was totally different and it was quite easy to bat on. The toss is really important in these games, but that’s not in our hands, there’s nothing we can do about that.”

    Khan arrived here as the number one ranked bowler in the world in Twenty20 internationals and in One Day Internationals (ODI) and, after enhancing his growing reputation with a destruction of the Chevrons in an ODI series which the Asians won 4-1 in the United Arab Emirates last month, he was mauled for 68 runs, while capturing one wicket, by the Scots.

    Stuart MacLeod led the rout with an unbeaten 153 runs on a day when Zimbabwean veterans Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza also scored centuries for their side in a huge win over Nepal in their first game before a big crowd at Queens Sports Club.

    The Nepalese cricketers represent a country whose national cricket board has been under suspension by the International Cricket Council for the last two years.

     “Our manager, our coach, and a couple of senior players get together and help to plan our tour and get the camps together,” Paras Khadka, Nepal’s captain, told The National newspaper of the United Arab Emirates.

    “That is how it has been going on for the past while. Obviously, we would love to have a proper administration so that we don’t need to worry about anything else other than performing out there on the field.

    “Unfortunately, there are things we need to take care of off the field as well. We are glad to have that responsibility.

    “As long as we are honest about what we do, we are more than glad. It is a privilege to play for your country.”

    Which, in essence, captures the spirit of this tournament.

    Because it is all about flying the flag of one’s country, something which West Indies master batsman Chris Gayle decided to do, rather than play in the Pakistan Super League, where his counterparts Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Darren Bravo are playing.

    Gayle started his ICC Cricket World Cup adventure with a century on Tuesday at Old Hararians in the capital to serve notice to anyone who probably doubted his commitment that he is here to make a huge difference.

    But this is not only about just the explosive centuries which the fans will be seeing in the next two weeks as the battle for a place in England really intensifies with the Super Six matches and then the final on March 24.

    It is about preserving the legacy of the game and the ICC have been on point here as the stars who are in this country have been conducting some coaching clinics for the school kids to ensure that interest in the game remains alive long after the bandwagon has left                                 Zimbabwe.

    “Yesterday (Monday), @herygayle (Chris Gayle) was teaching youngsters how to score runs,” the ICC said on their official Twitter account with a picture of the hard-hitting batsman showing some Harare school kids how to play the game.

    “Today, he’s showing them exactly how it’s done! The master blaster has raced away to 35 from 26 balls with five boundaries and a pair of sixes.”

    It just doesn’t get better than this.

    In getting his century against the UAE, Gayle became only the third batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score hundreds against 11 different countries as he joined Hashim Amla of South Africa and Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar.

    And, just to show that the world is watching, the United States cricket controlling body sent their best wishes to all the 10 teams playing in this tournament.

    “Good luck to all 10 sides at the #CWCQ in Zimbabwe which starts today (last Sunday), we’ve enjoyed some great battles against many of the sides at the tournament over recent years and look forward to more in the future,” the Americans said on their official Twitter                feed.

    “May the best two teams qualify for @cricketworldcup 2019.”

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