Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket authorities feel vindicated after the Chevrons’ high-stakes tour of Pakistan, while coach Dav Whatmore says his charges will only improve by playing more games as they target a top eight place in the next two years.
That’s the only way Zimbabwe can ensure an automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
The team returned home on Monday following a brief tour of Pakistan which ended at the weekend.
Zimbabwe played two Twenty20 matches and three ODIs but, although they were competitive in all matches, they fell short in both series.
The Pakistan tour came under the spotlight because of security fears in that country.
The Chevrons were the first Test nation to visit in six years and cricket authorities yesterday said they were vindicated for taking the decision in the backdrop of huge criticism.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Wilson Manase said they felt vindicated after the tour ended without incident.
Manase said they believed Pakistan were victims of an onslaught similar to Zimbabwe’s during the early 2000s.
“I want you to understand that Zimbabwe has been in an unfortunate position of being in such a situation where everyone would say we will not go to Zimbabwe because the security situation is very bad,” said Manase.
“Tourists thought if you come to Harare at the airport you would see people fighting with guns but that was not true.
“We also, with that in mind, decided to take into account the situation in Pakistan. This is why we sent our own team to look at the situation and they came back with a positive result.
“I think I’m justified or I’m vindicated today to say that we went to Pakistan and we came back, we are safe.
“When we went to Pakistan it was to ensure that another nation which has been demonised like we have been before – something that has put us last on the ladder of Test cricket because no other team visited us – is also uplifted from that kind of position.
“This is how this tour, in the end, it became not a ZC event but a national event. The Pakistan people are not thanking ZC, they are saying thank you Zimbabwe.
“They’re thanking the nation of Zimbabwe. Sport builds bridges with nations. Again Pakistan are coming to Zimbabwe in August.”
The cricket boss said they have no issues with the Sports Commission after going ahead with the decision to tour despite the advice from the organisation to reconsider the security threat.
Manase said the SRC made a recommendation and at the same time gave them the leeway to make their decision as an association.
“If SRC have a problem they know the channels to communicate. They communicate with us though our offices at ZC and then we will engage.
“I will not go to a paper and start denigrating them or say what they are saying is rubbish because I don’t know whether they said it.
“They have not written to us about that. We abide by the laws of the country,” said Manase.
Whatmore said he was pleased to tour because his side lacked game time.
Until the Pakistan tour, Zimbabwe were the only Test playing nation that was yet to play competitive cricket since the World Cup.
The coach is happy with the schedule for this year as they will welcome India, West Indies and Bangladesh later this year.
“It’s very obvious that this Zimbabwe team will improve but it can only do so through competition,” said Whatmore.
“We are pleased that we are able to begin competition and if you look at the fixtures for this particular calendar year it is very much like a normal full member’s fixtures and I’m very pleased with that.
“We have to play. If we don’t play it’s very difficult to improve.”
The coach said his team acquitted themselves well under difficult conditions in Pakistan as they stretched the hosts to the limit in closely fought encounters.