The Good: Tatenda Taibu
For those bored by the predictability of England's new-found cricketing excellence, there is a very different and rather more rewarding story taking place in Harare. Zimbabwe returned to Test cricket last month after six absent years, beating Bangladesh comfortably. Next up, Pakistan, whose attack led by Saeed Ajmal has ripped through the hosts. The sole resistance has come from wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, still in with one day left, bravely keeping Zimbabwe in the game while as his partners are picked off. Taibu may not see it out, but his commitment to what has until recently been an unserious cricket team is inspiring. Andy Flower may have moved on to a very different cricketing challenge, but his archetype endures.
The Bad: Kevin Blom
What a shame for the home nations, as a collective, that those that did not need to win did so, while those for whom it was a necessity could not. And while the two Irish teams can blame the errors of Steven Davis and Robbie Keane, the Scots once again found themselves the victims of imprecise officiating. Kevin Blom, the Dutch referee, first awarded the Czech Republic a penalty after Jan Rezek's bent-knee, arched-back Platoon parody. Minutes later Christophe Berra was tripped in the box, and booked for his troubles. But these were mere mistakes. What is even less acceptable is Blom reportedly telling Berra to "eff off" earlier in the match. Respect works both ways, as a dissapointed Kenny Miller pointed out afterwards.
The Odd: The non-flying Romanian
Bravery, and its opposite, comes in a range of forms. Fear and fearlessness are not uniform. That, surely, must be the lesson of Romania wing Catalin Fercu's refusal to go to the Rugby World Cup because of a fear of flying. Fercu (above) must certainly be brave in his way, having 52 times faced the physical and mental examination of Test rugby on the wing. But this particular challenge was, unfortunately, beyond him. Not that those players who did fly to New Zealand necessarily see it like that. "I would say more than half the team are angry at him, not just disappointed," snapped vice-captain Cristian Petre.Reuse content