Five issues that Zimbabwe must solve to move forward | ESPNcricinfo.com

10:02 PM ISTMohammad Isam in DhakaZimbabwe have endured a forgettable tour of Bangladesh, having lost all six international matches by big margins. ESPNcricinfo looks at five areas where they need serious improvement before their next series against Ireland in AprilProblem with the basicsTwice during the course of the limited-overs leg of this tour, captain Sean…

10:02 PM IST

  • Mohammad Isam in Dhaka

Zimbabwe have endured a forgettable tour of Bangladesh, having lost all six international matches by big margins. ESPNcricinfo looks at five areas where they need serious improvement before their next series against Ireland in April

Problem with the basics

Twice during the course of the limited-overs leg of this tour, captain Sean Williams called for improvement in the basics. He said that their approach in the field has been concerning and was also less than impressed with the way the bowlers planned their overs.

It was also noticeable that batsmen struggled to cope with pressure. In Bangladesh, it is clear that spin is the major threat, but despite that knowledge they folded quite quickly against Nayeem Hasan in the one-off Test, while in the ODIs and T20Is, Bangladesh’s basic discipline was enough to knock them over too. One must wonder what the bowling, batting and fielding coaches are doing about it. What’s the plan, really?

Uncharacteristic seniors

Brendan Taylor and the rest of the Zimbabwe senior players formed the backbone of their tours to Bangladesh in the past, but this wasn’t one of those tours. It began well after stand-in captain Craig Ervine struck a century on the first day of the one-off Test. But with Williams missing, Zimbabwe didn’t have the middle-order glue.

Even after Williams’ return, their fortunes didn’t change. Taylor continued to struggle in the ODIs and only managed a fifty in the second T20I. Sikandar Raza batted aggressively in the T20Is, struck two fifties in the ODI series and was steady in the Test as well, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Pace attack without spearhead

Whatever the format, exactly who led their pace attack remains a mystery. Chris Mpofu was their most experienced bowler but he looked rusty. Donald Tiripano played in all three formats but never looked like a wicket-taking pace bowler. Charlton Tshuma and Carl Mumba hardly made a dent on Bangladesh’s batting, too. They are clearly missing Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara, both recovering from injury, and need them back.

There are rumours that Blessing Muzarabani could come back into contention because of Brexit and its effect on Kolpak contracts. A tall guy who can bowl quick, and has control, will be very helpful to this team.

No specialist spinner

Raza displayed several of his variations during this tour, including a fine googly that got Liton Das in the first T20I. But apart from him, no other Zimbabwe spinner stood up to the Bangladesh batsmen.

Ainsley Ndlovu and Tinotenda Mutombodzi should have bowled better in helpful conditions. Young Wesley Madhevere bowls steady offspin, which will be handy if he has an attacking option from the other end. But the thing is it is quite apparent that batting is his stronger suit.

Questions must be asked of the selectors about Brandon Mavuta and the in-form Tendai Chisoro being overlooked for this tour. Both men took plenty of wickets and scored runs in domestic cricket, which selectors said was their criteria when picking the team.

Captaincy riddle

Perhaps the biggest question they face. Who is Zimbabwe’s best captain in limited-overs cricket? It was strange to see the selectors bring back Chamu Chibhabha after he had not played at the highest level for 19 months. Even the regulars struggle to keep pace with international cricket after missing action for a few months, so when he did go out to bat in the first ODI in Syhelt, it was only natural that Chibhabha looked out of sorts. No one should blame him.

Williams is their Test captain and after Chibhabha’s hand injury, he stepped up to lead in the ODIs and T20Is. There are a few senior cricketers in the side who can easily lead the limited-overs side if they want to free up Williams. All of these decisions must be taken quickly, as Zimbabwe have Ireland coming up in less than three weeks.

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