PRESSURE was on for Chamu Chibhabha from the word go, and the Zimbabwe limited-overs captain has been crushed under the sheer weight of it on his maiden assignment as the country’s white-ball skipper.
Some of the harshest critics of Chibhabha’s appointment 12 months ago were labelled doomsayers in some quarters but, in fairness, it was not without reason that the choice raised eyebrows.
And when you have the audacity of appointing a player from the sidelines of the team as captain, one with a not-so-attractive personal record, you must also be strong enough to take the flak when things go wrong.
That has been the case with Chibhabha, whose appointment has come back to bite the powers-that-be at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).
One common view in cricket is that a captain who does not lead from the front has a subsequent negative impact on the overall performance of the team and he soon loses the respect of his colleagues.
Scores of 13, 6 and a duck in the three-match ODI series in Pakistan have been a nightmarish introduction to leadership for the 34-year-old Chibhabha, who was astonishingly plucked out of the fringes of the national team and handed the captaincy.
It is very hard to see what ZC were expecting from their choice of captain, when you look deeper into Chibhabha’s profile at the time of his appointment.
Elevating a player at that ripe age to captaincy makes good sense in the case of someone with senior statesman status in the team—with statistics to back him up—tasked with leading the younger members of the side and helping in the grooming process of the next skipper.
Chibhabha neither had the standing nor the numbers.
Further examine Chibhabha’s role in the team at the moment, and you will see just how he has been horribly exposed by his appointment as captain.
Chibhabha used to be classified as an all-rounder on account of having been a handy seam-bowling option at one time.
Now he is just a batsman, not even backing himself up to take the ball in the ODI series.
Had he been an all-rounder, with runs eluding him, perhaps Chibhabha could have redeemed himself with the ball to salvage some respect for himself.
Moreover, the biggest aspect of captaincy in cricket is about leading the side while fielding—directing bowling changes and field placing. So a Chibhabha who also bowled would probably have had a more positive influence on the team, compensating with the other areas of his game.
Giving the captaincy to an opening batsman who does not guarantee you performances consistently enough, to lead by example and commands the dressing-room, was a shock move for which the appointing authorities ought to take it on the chin.