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Zimbabwean cricket team

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Template:Infobox Test team

The Zimbabwean cricket team is a national cricket team representing Zimbabwe. It is administrated by the Zimbabwe Cricket (formerly known as "Zimbabwe Cricket Union").

Zimbabwe is a full member of the International Cricket Council with Test and one-day international status. It played its first Test match in 1992 (against India at Harare), becoming the ninth Test nation.

Zimbabwe has struggled to perform well against the more established cricket nations. When a breakthrough in levels of performance appeared imminent with improving results in the late 1990s, the political situation in Zimbabwe declined under policies of Robert Mugabe's government. This has led to Zimbabwean players engaging in political protests at the 2003 cricket World Cup and disruption of team harmony.

In 2004, captain Heath Streak was sacked by the ZCU, prompting a walkout by 14 other players in protest against political influence in the team's management and selection policies. Because of this, the ZCU has agreed that Zimbabwe will play no further Test cricket in 2004, though its status as a Test nation is unaffected.

In early 2005, Heath Streak was reinstated into the Zimbabwean team. He was among the top 5 batsmen in the recent South Africa vs Zimbabwe test series (Scorecard: [Link at Cricmania (http://cricmania.com/cricket/DB/match/user/us03/series/ZIM_IN_RSA2004-2005)]

History of Zimbabwean international cricket

Zimbabwe's test performances were consistently weak, leading to many suggestions that they were undeserving of that status. In the one-day arena, however, the team were competitive, if not particularly strong.

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, allrounder (and later national captain) Heath Streak and professional farmer Eddo Brandes, who achieved considerable fame as a bowler.

The 2003 cricket World Cup was held partly in Zimbabwe, and several teams refused to play in Harare over security concerns. In one match, Andy Flower and fast bowler Henry Olonga wore black armbands. At the subsequent press conference, they made the statement that they were mourning the death of freedom in Zimbabwe. Both were immediately dismissed from the team and applied for asylum overseas.

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. Again, however, the team was competitive in the subsequent triangular one-day series also featuring India, although they did not qualify for the finals.

The increasing age of the Flower brothers was a growing concern to Zimbabwean cricket, as there were no young players capable of replacing them. Andy was eventually replaced as wicket keeper by Tatenda Taibu, who struggled early but was appointed vice-captain.

In early 2004, however, Zimbabwean cricket was thrown into turmoil by Heath Streak's dismissal as captain, which prompted many other established players to resign from international cricket. A scheduled tour by Sri Lanka went ahead, however this was a lopsided affair with Zimbabwe represented by fringe players who had not reached international standards yet. Australia was also scheduled to tour, however the situation deteriorated further and Zimbabwe's suspension from Test cricket turned the scheduled two-test series into a one-day tour only.

Most of the rebel players emigrated to South Africa, Australia or England to play domestic cricket there. Allrounder Sean Ervine, for example, signed to play with Western Australia and expressed a hope that he might qualify for Australian citizenship and eventually represent his adopted country.

The political situation in Zimbabwe, in which white pastoralists were evicted from their land by black "war veterans" also conspired against 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.

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