Zimbabwe's fine fielding catches England out

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe had every reason to feel extremely proud of its team after their first, albeit abbreviated outing in the Champions' Trophy. After putting England into bat they turned on a brilliant exhibition of fielding, and exceptional catches by Dougie Hondo and Tatenda Taibu made sure England had an unexpected problem.

Zimbabwe had every reason to feel extremely proud of its team after their first, albeit abbreviated outing in the Champions' Trophy. After putting England into bat they turned on a brilliant exhibition of fielding, and exceptional catches by Dougie Hondo and Tatenda Taibu made sure England had an unexpected problem.

Fielding is the one department in which weaker sides should always try to excel. When Phil Simmons, the former West Indies opening batsman, took over a few weeks ago as their coach, he, not surprisingly, found that the side's morale was not high. He has worked extremely hard to turn this round and this fielding display showed how well he has succeeded.

Zimbabwe's fielding could hardly have been in sharper contrast to the West Indies in the recent Test series. They were a poor side that played without any real spirit, although they had more experienced and talented players at their disposal than Zimbabwe, who are captained by a real livewire in Taibu. His style of captaincy could hardly have been in more marked contrast to the way in which Brian Lara led the West Indies.

The most eye-catching of the Zimbabwean fielders is the diminutive Stuart Matsikenyeri, who twinkles about at great speed and with wonderful enthusiasm in the covers or at midwicket. Brendan Taylor and Mark Vermeulen both held slip catches that although straightforward were easily droppable.

Taibu's catch of Andrew Strauss would have made even Alan Knott mildly jealous. He dived far to his left and held an edged cut in his outstretched left glove. Soon afterwards, Hondo ran away from the wicket at mid-off chasing a steepling swirler from Andrew Flintoff. Somehow he covered enough ground and held on, although at full stretch as he tumbled over. It was sterling stuff.

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