Despite having lost most of their main players after having got to a stage where they were no longer considered the minnows, Zimbabwe has rebuilt decently well. While they may not be expected to win too many games, they will look to play to their strengths – attacking the opposite bowling early and having a battery of spin bowlers who could look to restrict the opposition. On the tracks in the India n sub-continent where the spinners will get a lot of assistance Zimbabwe could look to upset one or two of the stronger teams in the competition.
Their pace bowling department is non-existent while the middle-order batting hasn’t shown themselves in any great light. The overall quality of Zimbabwean cricket isn’t too good either with some of those in the squad no better than a third string side for most other top nations.
The interesting thing about the Zimbabwean cricket in recent times is the kind of changes that the sport has seen at grassroot. Foreign and former cricketers like Allan Donald, Jason Gillespie, Chris Harris and some of the Zimbabwean greats like Grant Flower have returned to the set-up and are trying to help the side rebuild. There cannot be any bigger occasion than the World Cup and if the side can upset a bigger nation or two in the tournament, it will do their rebuilding process no harm.
There is a good chance that Zimbabwe may not win a single game against the stronger nations like Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. However, the worry for the Zimbabwean side will be whether they will be able to put it across the other minnows in the group Canada and Kenya. Losses to either nation could peg the Zimbabweans back and that is the one threat that the side will look to avoid at all costs.
Zimbabwe played their first World Cup in 1983 when they went through the qualifying process in the 1982 ICC Cup. They had an excellent start to the tournament as they beat a hapless Australia thanks to Duncan Fletcher’s all-round show and had India on the mats at 17/5 in another game. Unfortunately for them, they did not win another game in the World Cup till 1996 – losing everything in 1987 and 1992. Even in 1996, they won only against Kenya. Their best World Cup to date was in 1999, as they upset India and South Africa in the first round to qualify for the Super Six by carrying forward full points. Even one win out of the three games in the Super Six would have carried them to the semi-finals but they failed to do so and were bundled out.
Elton Chigumbura will be the captain of the side after he replaced Prosper Utseya in 2010.
Off-spinner Utseya has bowled really well in all parts of the world and in the sub-continent, it will only get better for him.