Zimbabwe’s National Cricket Team Passes Its First Test

In a triumphant return to test cricket after an extended self-imposed six-year absence, Zimbabwe’s national cricket team posted a 130 run victory over visiting Bangladesh in Harare on August 8. In the one-off test match, Zimbabwe staged a repeat of its last test victory; in 2005, Zimbabwe defeated Bangladesh in its last test appearance.

Going into the five-day event, Zimbabwe felt confident of a win, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion, and the Bangladesh side came set to avenge the 2005 loss. What impressed fans, many of whom came late and missed most of the action, was not that Zimbabwe won, but by the ease and margin of victory.

Local bowlers Kyle Jarvis, Christopher Moofu, Brian Vitori and Elton Chigumbura proved more than a match for the Bangladeshi batsmen, most of whom offered little resistance.

Vitori, in his debut bowling appearance, going against Mohamed Ashraful and Mahmudullah Riyad chasing 19 and four respectfully, gave Zimbabwe its first wicket in the final of the five-day test. Jarvis gave the team its last two wickets after the lunch break.

Zimbabwe team captain Brendan Taylor scored his maiden test century, but like the outstanding leader and team player he is, credited team mates Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine for the supporting role they played.

While the team played well, it failed to win in its 4-day match recently against the Australian team.

Clearly, the team’s dry season is over; at least, as far as play on the field is concerned. The financial health of the team might be another matter. Zimbabwe Cricket executive director Ozias Bvute concedes that there remains some work to get the organization’s finances into the condition it needs to be in, but assures fans that it’s just a matter of time.

With the still unsettled political situation in Zimbabwe, the shot in the arm of a triumphant cricket team becomes a rallying point for cricket fans to join hands across the political spectrum. At an August 12 match to which I was invited by the team, I joined a group of business people for lunch in the VIP lounge that included supporters of all the main political parties. The atmosphere was no different than I would expect to find in a bar after a New York Yankees’ game when team fans ignore who’s Republican and who’s Democrat, in their joy at seeing their team win.

The Zim team continues its return to test over the next several weeks, with more matches here in Harare and a major event scheduled for the western city of Bulawayo in late October.

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