Curiosities

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Associates & the ODI Rankings

Just for the record, and since there's a chance of at least one Associate team earning a promotion to the full rankings during this World Cup, here's a quick explanation of how the ODI rankings work for the Associate nations. How is this relevant to Zimbabwe cricket? Simple: any Associate promoted will be breathing down Zim's neck on the rankings...

Kenya are already on the full LG ICC ODI table, so this doesn't apply to them. For the other Associates with ODI status, there's a separate ranking table maintained by the ICC, which at the moment (following the ICC Tri-Series tournament in Antigua) looks like this:

                       vs Full Members          vs Others
                  Pld  P  W  T  L    %    P  W  T  L    %
1st  Scotland      19  3  0  0  3   0%   16 11  0  5  69%
2nd  Netherlands   14  2  0  0  2   0%   12  6  0  6  50%
3rd  Ireland       10  1  0  0  1   0%    9  4  0  5  44%
4th  Canada        23  1  0  0  1   0%   22  8  0 14  36%
5th  Bermuda       22  3  0  0  1   0%   19  5  0 14  26%

The rules for promotion are as follows:

Once an Associate has played at least 10 matches in total, it has the opportunity to be promoted to the main LG ICC ODI Championship table (currently comprising the ten ICC Full Members plus Kenya). To gain this promotion, the Associate must either achieve two wins against Full Members or achieve one win against a Full Member and also have won more than 60 per cent of its matches against other Associates on the rankings table.

The Associate would then have a ranking on the main table, initially based on its results in all ODIs played against any of the 11 existing rated teams, i.e. the ten Full Members and Kenya, during the qualifying period. Then, to progress to a rating, it would need to have played at least eight ODIs (over the previous two to three year period, updated every August) against teams who, at the time, were also rated on the LG ICC ODI Championship table.

So, under those rules, if Scotland can upset either Australia or South Africa, they'll get a rating on the table, although they'll need to play a further 3 ODIs against the 11 other teams on the table to progress to a formal ranking. The other Associates would need to win two further matches against Full Member sides, as their win percentage against other Associates is below 60%.

Clear as mud? Scotland have the best chance of progressing to the full ODI table, especially if South Africa continue to play like they did against Ireland. As for the other Associates - if any of them could manage to pull off the two major upsets required, they'd be fully deserving of their places, but I don't think it's going to happen this time around...

Flashback: 2003

CricInfo's been running a "Greatest World Cup Moments" series in the run-up to the World Cup, and Zimbabwe feature in today's piece - although not for their playing prowess. The occasion: Zimbabwe vs Namibia, and the black armband protest by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga:

The relative peace was shattered when, shortly before the start of Zimbabwe's opening match against Namibia, the press were handed a statement from Andy Flower and Henry Olonga in which they announced they would be wearing black armbands to "mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe". They stressed their desire to make a silent and dignified gesture. None of their team-mates, with the exception of Flower's brother, Grant, had any inkling of what was about to happen. The public were also unaware until in the 22nd over, Flower, batting at No. 3, walked to the middle wearing a makeshift black armband. Olonga was photographed on the players' balcony sporting his. The point had been made and the Zimbabwe authorities, used to clamping down on such signs of dissent brutally and immediately, had little response given the global spotlight on the event.

Full article here.

A Little Light Relief

After all the negative talk about Zimbabwe's World Cup chances, here's a little reminder of how the form book can be rendered meaningless. CricInfo's Greatest World Cup Moments feature today features Zimbabwe's first ever World Cup match, at Trent Bridge in 1983. Zimbabwe were then the top-ranked Associate nation (a position currently held by Kenya), and the only Associates in the competition courtesy of their victory in the 1992 ICC Trophy. Captained by a certain Duncan Fletcher (now England coach), their first opponents were Australia - and Zimbabwe, against all the odds, won. Definitely a little bit of history that's worth a read, by way of inspiration...
CricInfo - Zimbabwe announce their arrival

SA Series Preview

Fresh from being on the receiving end of a clean sweep by Australia Academy, Zimbabwe now head to South Africa for a Twenty20 match against the Eagles, followed by a 3-match ODI series against the Proteas. The series win against Bangladesh will have given Zim's squad of youngsters some much-needed confidence, but I think it's fair to say that no-one will be expecting anything other than a 3-0 win for South Africa in this series. Zimbabwe have only beaten South Africa twice before, in 1999 and 2000, and their last series (2005 in South Africa) was at the height of the player dispute and one of the most one-sided on record.

So Zim's aim for the most part will be simply to avoid humiliation and show they can at least be competitive - and with South Africa suffering from injury problems and a definite slump in form, and not having played an ODI since their famous 438/9 against Australia in March, now may be as good a time as any to upset the form book.

The series against Bangladesh and West Indies earlier this year have shown that Zimbabwe's bowlers can pin the opposition back to achievable scores, with Proser Utseya being the key player in the attack. Their main problem comes when it's time to bat - while there are occasional outstanding performances, Zim batsmen lack confidence, are overly cautious in chasing totals, and have an unwelcome tendency to collapse in dramatic style. These are all issues that can be overlooked when playing weaker teams like Bangladesh or Associate nations, but against other Full Members are weaknesses that really have to be dealt with if Zim are to have any chance of success. As always, the talent is there, but the temperaments are maybe not what they could be.

Any improvement on the 2005 series would be welcome, and you can check below the cut for a few points for comparison we'll be looking at following the series. If there's any consolation for Zim, it's that their position in the ICC ODI Rankings can't change as a result of this series - even a 3-0 win to SA would leave Zim ahead of Bangladesh (albeit only when the ranking points are recalculated to 3 decimal places). On the optimistic side, any combination of results involving a Zimbabwe win will open the gap between Zim and Bangladesh (to 5 points for 1 Zim win, or up to 14 points if there's an act of divine intervention and Zim sweep the series 3-0) - but I have to admit, I'm not holding my breath...

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Some fun with statistics, courtesy of CricInfo's Friday Column, where they have some fun with England's won/loss ratio in ODI's since December 2005. That's wins divided by losses, which for England works out as an "abysmal" 0.26 (4 wins, 15 losses, 1 abandoned).

How does Zimbabwe do under this calculation? Quite well, actually, at 0.88. If the ODI Rankings were calculated using the same method, they'd look like this:

1. Australia	2.14
2. New Zealand	2.00
3. West Indies	2.00
4. India	1.57
5. Pakistan	1.42
6. Sri Lanka	1.07
7. Zimbabwe	0.88
8. Bangladesh	0.87
9. South Africa	0.85
10. Kenya	0.66
11. England	0.26

The CricInfo article doesn't give the figures for Bangladesh and Kenya, so I've worked those out myself - Bangladesh 7 wins & 8 losses, Kenya 4 wins and 6 losses. Of course, this is all just for fun and to highlight that stats aren't always the be-all and end-all of performance metrics, but from a purely partisan point of view - adopt these as the official standings immediately!
CricInfo - England's dismal ODI stats, and Younis steps up

Zim's "Need for Sports Administrators with Integrity"

Newsnet takes a dig at the administration of sport in Zim, which seems tailor-made for ZC at the moment (although ZIFA apparently have their own problems). The article is inspired by the 2006 AFCON Fund-raising Committee Audit Report, which pointed out that maladministration of sporting bodies is a prime reason for failure to attract sponsorship:

The government has from time to time through the Ministry of Education, Sport & Culture and one of its major parastatals, the Sport & Recreation Commission (SRC) made billions of dollars available to national teams to enable them to fulfill international assignments as well as pay players’ bonuses and allowances.

Reports of maladministration and failure to “properly” account for public funds by associations bailed out by the government, have seriously destroyed public confidence in sport governance. Analysts say sound administration of public funds is paramount in sport.

Factionalism and polarisation are also some of the challenges that have brought a negative impact in local sport governance.
Some wrangles and squabbles involving sporting matters have been taken to the courts in clear violation of standing constitutional and international statutes, rules and regulations governing sport.

While the development of ideal infrastructure and provision adequate resources rests with all stakeholders, it is the business of the Sport and Recreation Commission as the supreme sport governing body in the country, to exercise its duty and ensure that sport is administered properly and according to laid down procedures, rules and regulations if the country is develop in terms of sport.

I wonder if anyone is paying attention...
Newsnet - Need for sport administrators with integrity highlighted

Where Are They Now...?

For the most up-to-date version of this list, check our new Players page. This page kept for archive purposes...

Since I get asked on occasion, here's a list of past and present players who are currently playing outside Zimbabwe (mostly in England), and a few other former players who seem to have stopped playing. I don't guarantee this is 100% accurate, but for the most part it should be. Links to club websites are given where possible.

If I've missed anyone, or you're aware of inaccuracies, add a comment to let me know. Last updated: 11 September 2006.

Gary Ballance		Derbyshire CCC
Charles Coventry	(English club cricket?)
Keith Dabengwa		Lymington CC
Colin de Grandhomme	Baildon CC
Terrence Duffin		Winsley CC
Dion Ebrahim		Old Hamptonians CC
Sean Ervine		Hampshire CCC
Gavin Ewing		Beccles CC
Andy Flower		Essex CCC
Grant Flower		Essex CCC
Travis Friend		(Australian club cricket - Sydney Shires league?)
Murray Goodwin		Sussex CCC
Anthony Ireland		Gloucestershire CCC 2nd XI
Waddington Mwayenga	Worcestershire CCC 2nd XI
Ian Nicolson		Highveld Lions Academy
Ray Price		Worcestershire CCC
Paul Strang		New Brighton CC
Tinashe Panyangara	Holton-le-Clay CC
Edward Rainsford	Harefield CC
Heath Streak		Warwickshire CCC
Tatenda Taibu		Pyrford CC
Brendan Taylor		(English club cricket?)
Mark Vermeulen		Werneth CC
Sean Williams		Clara Vale CC

The following players have either dropped off the radar or confirmed their retirement from playing:
Andy Blignaut: was with Highveld Lions last season - not listed in the squad this year, no current info.
Neil Ferriera: coaching at Rendcomb College in England.
Trevor Gripper: last recorded at Old Cranleighan CC, no current info.
Douglas Hondo: playing future in doubt after stress fracture to his back.
Pommie Mbangwa: now a cricket commentator.
Brian Murphy: coaching at University of Cape Town.
Henry Olonga: musician and songwriter, new album out soon.
Bryan Strang: teaching & coaching in Harare.

Heath Streak Column for Sky Sports

Just spotted this, although it's been running for a while - former Zim captain Heath Streak has a regular column over at skysports.com, focussing mostly on Warwickshire but also taking a look at some other topical issues. The most recent update includes Streak's thoughts on the Darrel Hair / Pakistan controversy.
skysports.com - Streak's Life

To Boycott or Not to Boycott?

Writing in The Zimbabwean, Peter Whalley considers whether a boycott of Zimbabwean cricket - as regularly called for by those who saw the affect sporting boycotts had on the South African government during apartheid - would have any effect on the ZANU(PF) government:

Although this line of thought is morally correct, it does ignore certain realities which make the Zimbabwean situation completely different to the one that existed in apartheid-ruled South Africa.

There will come a time when the Zanu (PF) leviathan is no more and its fellow travellers on the cricket gravy train will disappear, so that genuine cricket-loving Zimbabweans can take the game to new heights from a position of growing strength. This is surely preferable to a situation of starting from scratch, which would be the case if those pressing for Zimbabwe's total isolation had their way.

This is not to state that disapproval of the current state of affairs should fall away, but it must not be at the expense of the development of Zimbabwean cricket. It is to be hoped that individual cricketers will continue to stand up for what they believe are important principles as Andy Flower and Henry Olonga did during the 2003 world cup and Tatenda Taibu more recently.

These are the kinds of headline-attracting actions that will keep the world's attention on Zimbabwe, while cricket tries to keep its head above water. It is important that people with a genuine love for the game keep the flag flying until the day when real change will once again see Zimbabwe regain its position as the jewel of Africa in all fields, not just cricket ones.

It's worth pointing out that The Zimbabwean is usally very pro-isolation, so this is a change to their usual editorial tune. The argument mirrors a recent discussion over at Caught Behind! with The Burnt Bail's Chris Fogarty. Other arguments aside, I can't help but think that all the moral handwringing that every tour of Zimbabwe seems to bring gives more publicity to the situation in Zim than any boycott ever could...
The Zimbabwean - Whither Zimbabwe cricket?

LG Player Rankings Update

Just before the Bangladesh series, we took a look at where Zimbabwe's players stood in the LG ODI player rankings. With the series out of the way, it's time for a quick look at who's improved - and in one case, who hasn't.

First, a few points to note. Zim's loss in the final game in the series dented the scores of most of the players who took part, so you'll see some players have fallen back from personal bests reached during the 3rd & 4th ODIs. It's also worth bearing in mind that scores are weighted until a player has played 100 innings / taken 100 wickets, so most of Zim's player scores are restricted under the weighting formula (more on that at the LG ICC Rankings website, here.) Now without further ado, on to the rankings.

Batting Rankings

Before      After
Pos  Pts    Pos  Pts
46   543*   40   576     Brendan Taylor      (PB of 579 during series)
77   436    72   451     Elton Chigumbura
            83   419     Stuart Matiskenyeri (PB of 425 during series)
=86  401    87   391     Barney Rogers
            90   387*    Vusi Sibanda
=86  401    95   374     Chamu Chibhabha
95   396    99   360     Andy Blignaut
97   359                 Dion Ebrahim

(* = personal best)

So it's goodbye to Dion Ebrahim, victim of being sidelined in the current setup, but hello to Stuart Matsikenyeri and Vusi Sibanda. Sibanda's finally beginning to live up to his promise - for the first few series he played in, his performances with the bat certainly didn't live up to his billing - and his appearance in the rankings with a personal best score reflects that. Matsikenyeri also comes in impressively far up the table for a debut, but it's a fair position looking at his performances this time around.

You may have been expecting Brendan Taylor to have made better progress up the table after his 3rd ODI heroics, but the ODI rankings actually work against batsmen who are not out at the end of the innings:

(Batsmen) only get a small amount of credit for being not out (because a not out batsman is, by definition, batting at the end of the innings when the value of his wicket is low).

In this case, I'd have to say Taylor's ranking really doesn't reflect the true worth of his performances in the series.

Chamu Chibhabha is the only current Zim player to drop in the rankings - partly due to not having played in three games in the series (points are lost for not appearing), but also because his 2.50 average from the two innings he did play are well below his career average of 29.44. Definitely not a good series for him.

Bowling Rankings

Before      After
Pos  Pts    Pos  Pts
28   574*   17   651*    Prosper Utseya
68   437*   54   481     Tawanda Mupariwa    (PB of 486 during series)
69   434    74   423     Douglas Hondo
            80   412*    Ed Rainsford
86   387    92   377     Andy Blignaut
            94   375     Blessing Mawhire    (PB of 394 during series)
87   384    95   374     Tinashe Panyangara

(* = personal best)

Prosper Utseya breaks into the top 20 - with the ODI bowling rankings being very rewarding to those with low economy rates, that's no surprise at all. The question with Prosper is how far he can rise, and if he can stay as miserly against stronger opposition - something the upcoming series against South Africa should give us a few pointers to. Tawanda Mupariwa also makes good progress up the table, thanks to 7 wickets from his three matches. Surprising not to see Hamilton Masakadza there yet - more wickets taken than Mupariwa at a lower economy rate - but he can't be too far out of the running.

Overall, then, Zim have three more players in the rankings than they had before the series (Dion Ebrahim dropping out, four new players in), and all the current players with the exception of Chibhabha have made progress up the tables. Progress indeed - but there are sterner tests ahead and it remains to be seen if the players can maintain their rankings against tougher opposition.

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