via Zimbabwe can help reverse 10-team decision – Chigumbura | Cricket | ESPN Cricinfo 28 February 2015 by Firdose Moonda
Elton Chigumbura captains a cricket team that is among the game’s aristocracy. As an ICC Full Member, Zimbabwe, internal politics aside, do not need to stage any uprisings because they already have all the benefits of the elite but mid-way through their World Cup campaign, Chigumbura was thinking like an activist.
“It will be sad if the World Cup is reduced but we’ve got the chance maybe to force them to change those decisions if we play well and go to the next stage,” Chigumbura said. “Even looking at the Associates, they’re doing well, so if they carry on doing well with what they’ve been doing, and hopefully they can force them to change those decisions when it comes to reducing teams for the World Cup.”
Zimbabwe, like Bangladesh and perhaps even West Indies, are at risk of being the first heads to roll when the revolution comes. As the lowest-ranked Full Members on the ODI table, they are directly threatened by the proposed shrinkage of the World Cup, perhaps even more than the Associates.
While Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, UAE and all the other Associates who have played at a World Cup are used to being asked to prove themselves via qualifying round, the Full Members have always been guaranteed their spot. If the World Cup condenses, they no longer have that certainty.
For Zimbabwe it will mean financial meltdown, even if it does not affect their top-tier status, which is why they put so much emphasis on being able to push the big boys at this tournament. “I’m sure some people were surprised about the way we approached the tournament,” Chigumbura said, referring to their positivity, especially with the bat. “It’s just a matter of time if you work hard first up, and when you get in, these are good wickets to bat on. As a team, we’re confident with our batting.”
So confident they danced toe to toe with South Africa for 80% of their chase of 340, so confident that there was no panic within the ranks during a faltering chase against UAE and so confident that even when Chris Gayle blew them away, they were not overawed. Like most teams at the tournament, Zimbabwe have found bowling at the death difficult primarily because they lack an out and out paceman.
The match against Pakistan is an opportunity to change that. It is also Zimbabwe’s last shot at staying in contention for a quarterfinal place. With that pressure at the back of their minds, the Zimbabwe of old would not have been able to cope. But the new Zimbabwe, the one that enjoys having a bit of fun, has promised to try.
“If you put the freedom in the team, then you tend to be relaxed and you can execute. At the end of the day it’s about also enjoying the game,” Chigumbura said. “You need to enjoy the moments and the occasion.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent