ZIMBABWE’S 24-run victory against Pakistan in the second Test match was a major confidence booster for the team and its faithful supporters.
It was a victory so sweet that it will remain etched in the minds of many cricket enthusiasts and players for a long time.
Pakistan by all standards are a formidable side and have better International Cricket Council ratings in all formats of the game than Zimbabwe.
However, what made the 24-run victory more special was that the tour had been threatened by the salary dispute that made headlines the world over and it was Zimbabwe’s first Test victory against a country other than Bangladesh since 2001.
Brendan Taylor and his team became giant slayers bringing down the much fancied Pakistan.
Since coming out of a six-year hiatus from Test cricket in 2011, Zimbabwe only won two Test matches against Bangladesh.
Pakistan and New Zealand are the two countries Zimbabwe played in the longer version of the game since 2011 and Zimbabwe had not won a single game.
No one gave Zimbabwe a chance or imagined that they would come up with a polished act and dismiss the visitors, who have favourable head-to-head statistics.
The Pakistan tour having come on the heels of India’s tour in which Zimbabwe was humiliated with a whitewash, the recovery by Zimbabwe, getting two face savers, is a confidence booster.
The next step is to maintain that form.
Zimbabwe will need to play more matches in order to keep up the standard.
Before the break from Test cricket, Zimbabwe used to suffer huge losses of an innings and several runs.
That forced Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to voluntarily withdraw from the longer version of the game.
Zimbabwe lost the series, but lost competitively and there has been massive improvement as the players continue to get more experience.
However, there are fears that the Sri Lanka tour might be postponed as the financial challenges continue to dog ZC.
It is reported that ZC is in dire financial straits and may not be able to foot the bill of hosting Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s tour of Zimbabwe is scheduled for next month.
With the cricket calendar ending next month, Zimbabwe will be out of action, if the Sri Lanka tour hits a snag, until next July.
The local five franchises Mash Eagles, Mid-West Rhinos, Mountaineers, Southern Rocks and Tuskers are out of action as the cricket mother body is unable to fund their operations.
And this will be a major setback for the team that is showing great improvement.
The recent Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe saw Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori setting records for themselves and adding points to their ratings.
Interesting statistics came out from the tour.
Chatara became man-of-the-match in the cricket series after cruising to a five-wicket haul that was important for Zimbabwe’s victory. Vitori also claimed five wickets in the Test series.
Statistics show that Vitori and Chatara have made a difference in books of records as they are the first two to pick five wickets apiece in a Test match.
Andy Blignaut, Heath Streak and Henry Olonga won five wickets, but not in the same Test match as Chatara and Vitori.
As a result of the tour, Zimbabwe are now ranked in the ICC Test rankings.
They are occupying ninth position out of 10.
They are ahead of Bangladesh and behind New Zealand.
For their exploits in the longer version of the game, Zimbabwe, from 11 matches have 372 points with a rating of 34.
Eighth positioned New Zealand, from 27 matches have 2 126 points with a rating of 79.
For Zimbabwe to improve on the world rankings, they will need to play more Test matches.
As we bask in victory glory it is time the ZC put their house in order and map a way forward for the development of the game. With the new ministry in place, the gentleman’s game should be given attention for it to flourish.
The game has over the years gone through major transformations with blacks now fully represented in the team once dominated by whites.