Cricket: Zimbabwe humble favourites

Zimbabwe 233-6 South Africa 185 Zimbabwe win by 48 runs

THE UNLIKELY turn of events that transpired at Chelmsford on Saturday, propelling Zimbabwe from the position of almost certain elimination to potential semi-finalists and exposing flaws in the make-up of the hitherto apparently unbeatable South Africans, was undoubtedly due more to an excellent performance by the winners rather than a poor one on the part of the favourites.

Led by Neil Johnson, the all-rounder who in any other era would have been playing for South Africa rather than Zimbabwe, the outsiders batted with purpose and poise, making the most of a difficult assignment; but their bowling was a revelation to those unaccustomed to watching the youngest Test nation in action and in the end South Africa were well beaten in all aspects of the game.

Johnson, who was born in Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa at the age of nine before returning to the country of his birth last year, actually played for South Africa A after spells with Eastern Province and Natal, but with competition for a place in the Test side from the likes of Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis he eventually opted for Zimbabwe. This, by his own admission, was the match of his life.

In sharing partnerships of 65 and 66 for the first two wickets with Grant Flower and Murray Goodwin, the one-time Leicestershire player laid the foundations for victory with an innings that was flamboyant at first and then, as scoring runs became harder, admirable in its restraint. He took 57 balls to reach his fifty, and another 50 balls to reach 76, whereupon he became the first of three victims for Allan Donald, caught on the square- leg boundary by Pollock.

When South Africa batted, Johnson took the wicket of Gary Kisten with the very first ball, a sharply rising delivery splendidly caught low down in the gulley by Andy Whittall, and it was as if South Africa never recovered from the blow. Herschelle Gibbs was run out after a mix-up with Mark Boucher, who further blotted his copybook by falling lbw to Heath Streak in the very next over.

Twenty-five for 3 became 25 for 4 as the out-of-sorts Kallis went for a duck, caught behind off Johnson, and suddenly South Africa were in deep trouble. For once, the experience of Hansie Cronje and Jonty Rhodes failed to extricate them from the mire, and for a while it looked as though Darryl Cullinan might finally punch his World Cup weight but he lost patience with Andy Whittall's off-spin and it was left to Lance Klusener and Pollock.

The failure of South Africa's top order must be a growing concern for them going into the Super Sixes, as surely they cannot keep relying on the incredible Klusener who, this time with the assistance of Pollock, once more gave South Africa's innings an air of respectability with some mighty hitting towards the end.

Such is Klusener's ability that, even when 86 were needed from the last nine overs with just two wickets in hand, the outcome remained in doubt until Allan Donald finally fell to Henry Olonga in the 48th over. Klusener has now made 164 runs in four innings in this tournament and is yet to be dismissed.

But this was Zimbabwe's day. Aside from Johnson, Streak and Olonga bowled with pace and accuracy, their spinners Whittall and Adam Huckle did a fine containing job in the middle of the innings when Pollock and Klusener might have turned the game around, and all of their batsmen bar the captain, Alistair Campbell, chipped in, with Goodwin even providing the rare sight of a straight-driven six off Donald.

"We had nothing to lose," Campbell said. "Everybody had written us off, we hadn't played particularly good cricket so far in this tournament yet we'd still managed to win two games. We knew that if we got all three departments right we'd have half a chance.

"Our coach [Dave Houghton] wanted recognition for Zimbabwe cricket and the one thing he said to us before this game was just to go out there and show people that we can play cricket whether we win or lose."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Telesales & Marketing Opportunities

£10400 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £38,000

£22000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role is a mixture of office...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests