Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane has challenged the Zimbabwe cricket team to shrug off the whipping boys tag when they host Afghanistan in the One Day International Series starting this week. The teams clash in five One-Dayers at Harare Sports Club starting on Thursday. Interestingly, Afghanistan have dominated the meetings between the two sides ever since they started playing against the big boys.
Zimbabwe have not won a series against the Asians in three different engagements and the Minister, who apparently has been riled by the Chevrons’ perpetual slide on the international scene, wants to see a change for the better.
“We are extremely worried by the performance of our cricket teams especially when they are playing Associate Nations.
“Zimbabwe should work hard to improve its rankings among the Test playing nations and should move away from being the whipping boys of cricket,” said Hongwane.
The Chevrons have performed dismally in recent years and the coming in of a new executive has provided unlimited hopes, but results have not started showing 18 months down line.
Afghanistan have won eight of the 14 ODIs between the two nations with Zimbabwe winning six. The Afghans were 3-2 winners the last time the teams met in the United Arab Emirates last year.
They had also beaten Zimbabwe on their own turf at Queens Sports Club by the same margin in 2015.
The first ever series between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan ended in a 2-2 stalemate again at Queens Sports Club in 2014.
But the 4-1 drubbing of Zimbabwe A in the stage warming series against Afghanistan’s A side was not a good omen ahead of the upcoming series.
Zimbabwe have engaged the Associate member more than any other team in the last few years because the full members are not willing to engage in bilateral arrangements.
“Something drastic is required to induce competition in our cricket and so far we think a lot more needs to be done by the current administration of cricket in Zimbabwe to achieve a respectable ranking within the family of cricket playing nations.
“We don’t want the continued losses to get to a stage where they begin to affect the image of the country,” said Hlongwane.