ZIMBABWEAN cricket may be forever changed by the events of March 22, 2018. Throughout the World Cup Qualifiers, Zimbabwe had left things late, beating Afghanistan by just two runs and being held to a tie by Scotland.
Craig Ervine needed to hit the last ball of the game for six to beat UAE, but Zimbabwe’s three-run defeat in an atmosphere of high drama at a rain-soaked Harare Sports Club instead ended their World Cup dreams.
The loss cast a long shadow over the rest of Zimbabwe’s year. In the fallout, the entire coaching staff, as well as selector Tatenda Taibu, were sacked, Graeme Cremer lost the captaincy, and several players made themselves unavailable for selection in a spat with the board over unpaid salaries.
Low on personnel and morale, Zimbabwe sank to one of the most one-sided series defeats of their history against Pakistan in July.
Fortunately, by September the absent players were back in the fold and there was a lighter mood to Zimbabwe’s series against South Africa and Bangladesh that capped the year, despite results not often going their way.
Teams thought to pack a much more substantial punch than Zimbabwe have left Bangladesh empty-handed in recent years. The Zimbabweans’ 151-run victory in the first Test was their first overseas Test win in 17 years, and a truly historic achievement.
Rarely can Harare Sports Club have witnessed an atmosphere comparable to that of Zimbabwe’s final World Cup Qualifier game. Packed to the rafters, more than 13 000 urged the team on, but when Ervine’s attempt at last-ball heroics failed, it was as if all the air had been sucked out of the ground.
source: the herald