BRIAN GOEREDEMA in Bulawayo
TANUNURWA MAKONI: The diminutive Zimbabwe opening batter made his Test debut and showed that he has the temperament to play the longer format by batting long – 5/10.
His 33 runs on debut, facing the likes of Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, and Jason Holder was remarkable even though it was on a docile surface.
Opening the batting in Tests, then the added pressure of being the son of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) Managing Director, Givemore Makoni, and having to justify his place in the team, was all weighing heavily on his young shoulders.
He fared well but didn’t do enough to make the opening slot his.
The young Makoni needs to work on his footwork, and knowing where his off-stump is, otherwise he will go out caught by the keeper and in the slips more often than not.
Fielding at silly point is normally reserved for juniors in the team – Makoni dropped far many catches in that position because he has hard hands and doesn’t have the level of anticipation that is needed when fielding in that area.
He however took a blinder at midwicket to dismiss Joseph in the second Test.
INNOCENT KAIA: Kaia scored a half-century on his Test debut and was unfortunate to be given out leg before wicket. He would have probably scored more had he converted all his starts.
Kaia was the only Zimbabwe batsman who looked comfortable against both pace and spin. He wasn’t afraid to take on the short ball.
His scores of 67, 24 (46), 38 (52), 43 (57) is proof of a batter in form.
Kaia however needs to learn how to start again after a break, or the end of day’s play.
In second innings of the second Test, he was again the set batsman and his third wicket partnership with captain Craig Ervine was crucial if Zimbabwe was going to get something out of the match.
Instead of playing within himself and starting all over again after lunch with Zimbabwe two down, Kaia decided to take on West Indies left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie.
He perished playing the sweep shot and fell seven runs short of his second Test fifty.
All great players know how to make their form count. This is the difference between winning, drawing, or losing a Test match.
At the ripe age of 30, Kaia is proof that if you allow a player to play a lot of first-class cricket without rushing them to the Test arena, they will be ready when given the opportunity. – 7/10.
CHAMU CHIBHABHA: Chibhabha’s second coming in Test was disappointing, to say the least. The veteran’s high score of 31 in the second innings of the first Test came when the hosts needed someone to stay until the end to try to salvage a draw. When he was dismissed, it opened one end that West Indies desperately needed, a further three wickets before the match ended as a draw.
The way he got out in both innings of the second Test shows a man short on confidence. He played away from his body and in another incident, didn’t get either forward or backward, playing on the ball onto his stumps.
The former Zimbabwe white-ball captain was brought in to bolster the fragile batting attack and we saw glimpses of it in the second innings of the first Test, but nothing really after that. – 4/10.
CRAIG ERVINE: Zimbabwe’s stand-in Test captain would be the first to admit that he left a lot of runs at Queens Sports Club. His highest score of 72 reminded everyone of what he is capable of.
It’s fair to say you can question the captaincy of “Slug” in the West Indies’ second innings of the first Test when he gave in-form leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta only seven overs with the ball when he was fresh from taking his maiden five-for in the first innings. – 6/10.
GARY BALLANCE: The former England batter marked the perfect homecoming back to his country of birth by scoring a century on his Zimbabwe Test debut.
Many had questioned the logic of having your best player bat down the order instead of at three or four. But the way “Gazza” managed to bat with the lower order showed his class, and brought Zimbabwe right back into the game.
He looked comfortable throughout his stay on the crease on his way to an unbeaten 137, a record for Zimbabwe. And, also, the second time a player has scored two Test centuries for two different countries after the great former Australia and South Africa star Kepler Wessels.
His calming effect on the rest of the team was missed in the second Test when Zimbabwe’s bating line-up capitulated like a deck of cards.
Ballance missed the match due to a severe migraine headache.
What should worry Zimbabwe technical team and the fans is that the former Yorkshire man has failed to play consecutive games ever since he made his white-ball debut for Zimbabwe in January. – 8/10.
TAFADZWA TSIGA: With Zimbabwe playing their first Test series without Regis Chakabva in a while, debutant Tsiga was looking at making the wicketkeeper-batsman slot his, especially with the home team playing six specialist batters.
Tsiga had horrible first innings on debut after he was beaten for pace many times by Alzarri Joseph.
He however made amends in the second innings by helping Zimbabwe save the first Test, scoring an unbeaten 24 from 83 balls.
In the second Test, he gave his wicket away. He would hate to watch footage of his two dismissals!
He needs to work on his keeping, missed some crucial stumping, and let in a few byes. – 5/10.
WELLINGTON MASAKADZA: It is hard being a Masakadza, let alone if your brother Hamilton is Director of Cricket of the board, and a Test centurion on debut. You have to justify your place all the time. Little brother “Wezha”, who has done remarkably well in the Logan Cup, Zimbabwe’s premier domestic competition in the longer format, justified his place by taking wickets and contributing with the bat.
He made the West Indies captain Kraigg Braithwaite his bunny in the series, dismissing him three times in the same manner, lbw.
Masakadza gives his captain options because he can bowl with the new ball, something that leggie Mavuta struggles with.
In batting, he kept Ballance company in the first Test, but should be disappointed with the way he got out just before lunch when he tried take on Motie but couldn’t get the elevation.
Masakadza made amends, helping Zimbabwe save the first Test with his unbeaten 0 from 36 balls. – 7/10.
BRANDON MAVUTA: A maiden five-wicket haul and maiden Test half-century marked a triumphant return to Test cricket for Mavuta.
Mavuta has been knocking on Test doors for some time and took his chance with both his hands in the absence of Ryan Burl, who is more of a batter who can bowl leg spin.
Batting with Ballance and helping to save the first test, was sign of somebody with potential to become a genuine all-rounder in Test cricket. – 8/10.
BRAD EVANS: The son of former Zimbabwe batter Craig Evans made his Test debut on a lifeless wicket, which didn’t suit his seam bowling.
He managed to get his maiden wickets in the second innings of the first Test.
Evans’s biggest blemish has to be his batting in the two innings he batted, after which he was dropped for the second Test. For someone who is touted to be an all-rounder of sorts, the manner of his dismissals is the biggest disappointment. – 5/10.
VICTOR NYAUCHI: He has to be the most underrated Zimbabwe Test bowler. “Vicky Jojo” was unlucky in his three bowling innings of the Test match until he took the new ball in the second innings of the second Test.
He got the ball to move away from both left and right-handers. Then he got a gem of a delivery to bowl Roston Chase to spark a West Indies collapse and more importantly on his way to his maiden five-wicket haul.
With the line-up missing both Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava, he took on the senior role with aplomb for someone so inexperienced. – 7.5/10.
RICHARD NGARAVA: When Richard Ngarava is low on confidence, he goes to his default mode, which is to bowl short every second ball. With his pace and docile surface, he was largely unsuccessful.
But when he decided to ball fuller and allow his natural left-arm seam angle going across the right handers, he was a marvel to watch.
He is mug with the bat, he can defend and also hit big sixes when needed. Ngarava however needs to work on his fitness. – 5/10.
TANAKA CHIVANGA: He made his debut as a replacement for Ngarava, but wasn’t trusted by the captain with the new ball.
When he got his chance to bowl, he bowled both sides of the wicket and got carried away with bowling the short ball.
He bowled well at times, but not enough to put enough pressure on West Indies. – 5/10.
MILTON SHUMBA: The left-handed batsman was given a chance to stake a claim within the top six of Zimbabwe’s batting line-up in the absence of Ballance.
“Milito” failed to score runs in both innings of the second Test and probably summed it up by dancing down the wicket to a Motie delivery and failed to connect to be bowled.
That shot was unnecessary, looking at the match situation.
With Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza and Burl set to return, Shumba has made it easy for the selectors. – 4/10.
*The NewsHawks contributor Brian Goredema covered the recent Test series between Zimbabwe and West Indies in Bulawayo.