The Zimbabwe national cricket team represents Zimbabwe in men's international cricket and it's administered by Zimbabwe Cricket (formerly known as the Zimbabwe Cricket Union or ZCU). Zimbabwe has been a Full Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 1992. As of 20 March 2020, Zimbabwe was ranked eleventh in Tests, eleventh in ODIs and twelfth in Twenty20 Internationals by the ICC.
Before Test status
Zimbabwe – known as Rhodesia until 1980 – had a national cricket team before it achieved Test status. A brief summary of key moments:
- Rhodesia was represented in the South African domestic cricket tournament, the Currie Cup, sporadically from 1904 to 1932, and then regularly from 1946 until independence.
- Following independence, the country began to play more international cricket.
- On 21 July 1981, Zimbabwe became an associate member of the ICC.
- Zimbabwe participated in the 1983 Cricket World Cup, as well as the 1987 and 1992 events.
Zimbabwe's first World Cup campaign in 1983 ended in the group stage, as they lost five of their six matches. However, they threw a surprise against Australia. Batting first, Zimbabwe reached a total of 239 for 6 in the allotted 60 overs, with skipper Duncan Fletcher top-scoring with 69 not out. Fletcher then produced career-best figures of 4 for 42 to restrict Australia to 226 for 7, thereby recording a stunning upset in cricket history.
In the 1987 World Cup, Zimbabwe lost all six of their group-stage matches, though they came very close to winning against New Zealand. Chasing 243 to win from 50 overs, wicketkeeper-batsman David Houghton scored 142, but Zimbabwe were all out for 239 in the final over, thus losing by three runs.
In the 1992 tournament, Zimbabwe failed to progress beyond the round-robin stage, losing seven of their eight matches, though there were two notable achievements. Against Sri Lanka in their first match, Zimbabwe posted their then-highest total of 312 for 4, with wicketkeeper-batsman Andy Flower top-scoring with 115 not out. However, the Sri Lankans chased this total down with four balls to spare, winning by three wickets.
In their final match, Zimbabwe faced England in an inconsequential encounter, England having already made the semi-finals. Batting first, Zimbabwe were all out for 134. Eddo Brandes then produced a stunning spell of 4 for 21, including dismissing Graham Gooch first ball, to help restrict England to 125 all out and thus give Zimbabwe a shock nine-run victory.
1992–1996: Early years of Test status
Zimbabwe was granted Test status by the ICC in July 1992 and played its first Test match in October that year, against India at Harare Sports Club. They became the ninth Test nation. Zimbabwe's early Test performances were consistently weak, leading to suggestions that they had been granted Test status prematurely. Of their first 30 Test matches, they won just one, at home against Pakistan in early 1995.
1997–2002: The golden era
In spite of his team's difficulties, wicket-keeper/batsman Andy Flower was at one point rated the best batsman in world cricket. During this era, Zimbabwe also produced such cricketers as Flower's brother Grant, and allrounders Andy Blignaut and Heath Streak (who was later appointed national captain). Murray Goodwin was also a world-class batsman; following his retirement from international cricket, he has scored heavily for Sussex. Another world-class batsman was David Houghton, who holds the record for the highest individual Test score for Zimbabwe of 266 against Sri Lanka in 1994/95. Sometime captain and middle order batsman Alistair Campbell, leg-spinning all rounder Paul Strang, Eddo Brandes, and pace bowler/opener Neil Johnson were other important contributors for Zimbabwe on the world stage at this time.
With the appearance of these quality players, a breakthrough was achieved in levels of performance in the late 1990s where the Zimbabwean team began winning Tests against other nations, which included a series win against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the political situation in Zimbabwe declined at around the same time, which had a detrimental effect on the national team's performances.
Zimbabwe excelled at the 1999 Cricket World Cup, coming in fifth place in the Super Sixes and only missing out on a semi-final place due to having an inferior net run-rate than New Zealand.
In the group stage, Zimbabwe beat India by three runs, before facing their neighbours South Africa, then the best team in the world. Batting first, Zimbabwe made 233 for 6, with a well-fought 76 by opening batsman Neil Johnson. In reply, South Africa collapsed to 40 for 6, before Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock scored half-centuries to reduce the margin of defeat to 48 runs. This was South Africa's first defeat against Zimbabwe and one of Zimbabwe's most famous wins. Neil Johnson also excelled with the ball, taking three wickets and claiming the Man of the Match award. Johnson quit playing for Zimbabwe after this tournament.
During this period, Zimbabwe beat all Test-playing nations (except Australia) regularly. Zimbabwe beat New Zealand both home and away in 2000–2001. The team also reached finals of many multi-national one day tournaments.
2003–2004: Signs of decline
Increasing politicisation of cricket, including selectorial policy, along with the declining situation in Zimbabwe disrupted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and South Africa. England forfeited a match scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe, risking their own progress through the competition, citing "security concerns" as their reason.
Zimbabwean players Andy Flower and fast bowler Henry Olonga wore black armbands, for "mourning the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe. Both were immediately dismissed from the team and applied for political asylum overseas. This public political protest caused considerable embarrassment to the co-hosts and disrupted team harmony.
Since the 2003 World Cup, with a succession of Zimbabwe's best players ending their international careers early, a new side began to develop, featuring the likes of Travis Friend, Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza, Douglas Hondo, Craig Wishart, Ray Price, Sean Ervine, Mark Vermeulen, Tatenda Taibu, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Dougie Marillier, and Barney Rogers. Whilst not of the same calibre of Streak, Goodwin, and the Flower brothers, this new breed of predominantly multi-disciplined players formed a solid backbone to a competitive, if usually unsuccessful, side.
In late 2003, Zimbabwe toured Australia in a two-match series. The series was more memorable for Australian opener Matthew Hayden's innings in the first Test – in which he overcame a back strain to score a then record 380 runs – than for the Zimbabwean performance.
Zimbabwe lost its first match against Bangladesh in 2004. In 2004, captain Heath Streak was sacked by the ZCU (now Zimbabwe Cricket), prompting a walkout by 14 other players in protest against political influence in the team's management and selection policies. A scheduled tour by Sri Lanka went ahead, but this was a lopsided affair, with Zimbabwe represented by fringe players who were not of international standard.
Because of this, the ZCU accepted that Zimbabwe were to play no further Test cricket in 2004, though its status as a Test nation was unaffected.
2005–2009: Worsening political situation, steep decline and exodus of players
After a series of poor Test performances following the resignation of several senior players, the Zimbabwean team was voluntarily suspended from Test cricket in late 2005 by its cricket board, with ICC encouragement. In early 2005, Heath Streak was reinstated into the national side, but the political situation in Zimbabwe involving Operation Murambatsvina disrupted the Zimbabwean team. During overseas tours, the players were often said to be buying necessities which were unavailable – or prohibitively expensive – at home, as opposed to the souvenirs which other touring teams would purchase.
In 2005 an agreement was signed which led to the return of many of the rebels to the Zimbabwe side. However, results failed to improve as in March 2005, Zimbabwe lost both their Tests on tour against South Africa by an innings. Worse was to follow in August, when they were crushed on home soil by New Zealand, in a match that was completed in just two days. In the process, Zimbabwe were humiliated; they became only the second side in Test history (after India in 1952) to be bowled out twice in the space of one day. Then they lost both their Tests to India at home later in September. After the series against India, Streak announced his retirement from international cricket, dealing yet another blow to the beleaguered team.
By November 2005, the players were once again in dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket over political interference in the management of the game, as well as contract negotiations, and the new captain, Tatenda Taibu, resigned from international cricket. By then the team had been further weakened by the departure of the likes of Dougie Marillier, Craig Wishart and Sean Ervine, all of whom retired in protest and expressed disillusionment in the local cricket hierarchy.
By January 2006, 37 Zimbabwean cricketers had failed to receive any offer of renegotiation talks from Zimbabwe Cricket after their contracts with the board had expired. This body of players demanded that the late former chairman and managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, be removed from office for there to be any hope for the players to return to the international stage.
On 6 January 2006, the Sports and Recreation Commission, a division of the Zimbabwean government, took over the offices of Zimbabwe Cricket. The apparent takeover resulted in the firing of all whites and Asians among the board directors, because of "their racial connotations and saving their own agendas and not government policy" according to Gibson Mashingaidze, an army brigadier and chairman of the government's Sports and Recreation Commission.
An interim board was appointed as the new leading party of cricket in Zimbabwe, with Peter Chingoka appointed as the committee's head. Given Chingoka's close ties to Bvute, it was likely that the latter would continue in his post as well.
2010–2013: Return to Tests and continued financial problems
Zimbabwe won an ODI and a T20I during their tour of the West Indies. Zimbabwe reached the finals of a triangular tournament which included India and Sri Lanka. They lost their remaining matches in the year except against Ireland whom they beat 2–1 at home.
Zimbabwe started their World Cup 2011 campaign with a 91-run defeat by Australia at Ahmadabad on 21 February 2011. They then recorded a comfortable victory over Canada, before losing by 10 wickets to New Zealand on 4 March 2011. Further heavy defeats by Sri Lanka and Pakistan followed, before a consolation victory over Kenya was achieved in Zimbabwe's final game of the tournament. After these defeats, opening batsman Brendan Taylor was announced as captain of all formats on 24 June 2011, replacing Elton Chigumbura.
Zimbabwe returned to Test cricket on 4 August 2011 after a six-year exile, hosting Bangladesh in a one-off Test match at Harare. The national team's re-introduction to Test cricket was successful, as they won by 130 runs.
2014–2020: Fall in rankings, loss to associates and failure to reach 2019 World Cup
At the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe were eliminated in the group stage. A last-ball defeat against Ireland was followed by victories over the Netherlands (also off the last ball) and the United Arab Emirates, but a resounding win for the Netherlands over Ireland meant that the Dutch progressed to the Super 10 stage on net run-rate.
In July 2014, Zimbabwe hosted Afghanistan in a four-ODI series. They won the first two matches, before the Afghans won the last two to draw the series. The following month, Zimbabwe hosted South Africa in a single-Test and three-ODI series, losing all four matches.
Following the South African tour, Australia arrived in Zimbabwe for a triangular ODI series with the hosts and South Africa. While Zimbabwe lost their first two matches, to Australia and South Africa respectively, they pulled off a significant upset by beating Australia in the 4th match of the series. This was the first time Zimbabwe had beaten Australia in 31 years, with their last win coming in the 1983 world cup in England. Despite this win, Zimbabwe lost their final match and were knocked out of the tournament.
- Director of Cricket: Hamilton Masakadza
- Head Coach: Lalchand Rajput
- Batting Coach: Stuart Matsikenyeri
- Bowling Coach: Douglas Hondo
- Chamu Chibhabha (c)
- Faraz Akram
- Ryan Burl
- Brian Chari
- Tendai Chatara
- Elton Chigumbura
- Tendai Chisoro
- Craig Ervine
- Tinashe Kamunhukamwe
- Wesley Madhevere
- Wellington Masakadza
- Carl Mumba
- Richmond Mutumbami (wk)
- Blessing Muzarabani
- Richard Ngarava
- Sikandar Raza
- Milton Shumba
- Brendan Taylor (wk)
- Donald Tiripano
- Sean Williams
2020 Pakistan Tour
The Zimbabwe cricket team is scheduled to tour Pakistan in October and November 2020 to play three One Day International (ODI) and three Twenty20 International (T20I) matches, with all the matches being played behind closed doors. The ODI series will form part of the inaugural 2020–22 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.
On 11 October 2020, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed the itinerary for the series, with the ODI matches taking place in Rawalpindi, and the T20I matches taking place in Lahore. Initially, all of the matches were scheduled to be played in Multan and Rawalpindi. However, in October 2020, the matches in Multan were moved to Lahore, following a disagreement with the government in Multan regarding finances. Pakistan's Babar Azam is expected to captain the team for the first time in ODI cricket.
In August 2020, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that the tour was still going ahead as planned, and were preparing a bio-secure environment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the PCB considered to host both the T20I and ODI series at a single venue in Lahore. However, in September 2020, it was announced that the T20I and ODI series would be held in Rawalpindi and Multan respectively. On 9 October 2020, the PCB moved the matches from Multan to Lahore, following a disagreement with the government in the city over finances. Multan last hosted international matches in April 2008, when Bangladesh played at the venue. Smog is forecast in Lahore during November, with the PCB monitoring the situation.
In September 2020, Zimbabwe Cricket stated that the official confirmation of travelling to Pakistan was imminent. Tavengwa Mukuhlani, chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, said he was "hopeful" that the tour would go ahead. On 20 September 2020, Zimbabwe named a preliminary squad of 25 players to begin training ahead of the tour. On 23 September 2020, Zimbabwe Cricket received government permission to travel to Pakistan. The Zimbabwe team are scheduled to arrive in the country on 20 October 2020, with the international matches starting two weeks later.
Leaving for Pakistan
The Zimbabwe Cricket wished the Zimbabwe national cricket team a safe trip as they departed for Pakistan on 19 October 2020 where they will face the Pakistan Cricket team in three ODIs and as many T20Is. Go well lads and all the best!
First ODI victory in Pakistan since November 1998
Zimbabwe picked up their first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League points after a remarkable game of cricket in the third and final ODI with Pakistan in Rawalpindi. After both sides tied with 278 after 50 overs, Pakistan were restricted to just two runs as Blessing Muzarabani took two wickets in the Super Over, and Zimbabwe were able to knock off the three runs needed for the win.
Zimbabwe got off to a disappointing start to the game, as Mohammad Hasnain removed Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha and Craig Ervine to leave the Chevrons reeling on 22/3. But Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams set about repairing the damage, putting on 84 for the fourth wicket before the latter perished to Hasnain for 56.
With 13 required off the final over from Ngarava and just one Pakistan wicket remaining, Muhammad Musa struck two boundaries, including one off the final ball of the innings, to force the first Super Over of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. The impressive Muzarabani stepped up to remove Ahmed with the first ball and almost had Shah next ball, as the mistimed shot landed in no-mans land.
But Muzarabani got his man just two balls later, as Shah chopped on, meaning Zimbabwe needed just three to win.Up stepped Taylor and Raza to knock off the runs with three balls to spare, as Zimbabwe tasted their first ODI win in Pakistan since November 1998.