Zimbabwe search for the silver lining

In the best of all possible worlds this tour by Zimbabwe would not have taken place, but now that it has started, their players have every right to be accepted and judged as serious cricketers. They are fighting to keep their country alive in the present series as well as trying to ensure that the game continues to survive back at home.

In the best of all possible worlds this tour by Zimbabwe would not have taken place, but now that it has started, their players have every right to be accepted and judged as serious cricketers. They are fighting to keep their country alive in the present series as well as trying to ensure that the game continues to survive back at home.

Cricket in Zimbabwe has a fragile foundation with only four first-class sides although once there were six. As in South Africa, cricket has been perceived there as a white man's game. Strenuous efforts are being made to spread the base to include all races, but they are being hindered by the prohibitive cost of equipment and the obvious lack of money in the prevailing conditions.

There are five black players in the Zimbabwe party and three of them, Doug Hondo, Dion Ebrahim and Mluleki Nkala, come from privileged backgrounds while Tatenda Taibu, the 20-year-old wicketkeeping vice-captain, and Vusi Sibanda are from humbler origins and have fought their way up through the development programme. It is worth pointing out that if this tour had not taken place, it would have been a considerable blow to the future of Zimbabwean cricket.

It is not all that far from extinction in any event. Money and exposure are both crucial ingredients and this tour is providing both. It has also produced plenty of publicity, which is splendidly and handsomely hostile to the dreaded Mugabe. He might not have received this in the same quantity if the cricketers had stayed at home.

Heath Streak's side has been written off as a bunch of inexperienced no-hopers without a chance of surviving against England, especially at the damp end of the summer. Although this may be, anyone who has been at Lord's these last three days will have admired the spirit of the Zimbabweans and have noted the potential that is undoubtedly there.

They have had the worst of the exchanges so far, principally as a result of their general inexperience in English conditions. They won what seemed to be an important toss, not least because of what might have happened to their own batsmen in the seaming conditions on the first day.

They bowled well on the first day although luck was against them - why is it that luck almost invariably follows the big battalions in these situations? Andy Blignaut bowled beautifully early on - moving the ball up the slope from the Pavilion End and giving Michael Vaughan as embarrassing a time as any bowler in the world could have managed (pace Glenn McGrath). They also have a fine orthodox left-arm spinner in Raymond Price.

Zimbabwe needed 273 to avoid following on and in an awkward period of 17 overs at the end of the second day, they made a reasonable start with Ebrahim showing great spirit and a considerable talent. He fought on for 160 minutes before being a trifle unlucky to find Andy McGrath in the gully when he drove at a wide half-volley.

The other batsmen did not cope with the moving ball as well as they would have done if this had been the fourth or fifth match in a five-Test series rather than the first in a two-match series. The figures from Lord's so far in this match obviously do not tell much of a story for Zimbabwe, but, nonetheless, they have shown that there is plenty to hope for.

If the present group of players can keep the game going until times change and prosperity returns to Zimbabwe, they will have ensured that there will then be a solid and presentable base to build upon.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?