There’s no point trying to talk up the opposition – and South Africa didn’t yesterday – as the players headed to Harare ahead of Saturday’s one-off Test against Zimbabwe.
Most of that country is in complete shambles and sport can hardly claim to be a priority when the shelves in shops are usually bare.
Yesterday as Hashim Amla’s team boarded their flight to the Zimbabwean capital, news came that the country’s football coach Ian Gorowa had resigned apparently because he hadn’t been paid his salary in seven months and due to a break down in relationships with the national football board’s administrators.
It’s a similar story in cricket, where players have fought lengthy battles just to earn a salary, while the sport’s administrators lurch from one disaster to the next.
The tour by South Africa, which will also feature a three-match One-Day International series, and then moreso the triangular ODI series featuring the two countries plus Australia, will bring in some much-needed cash for Zimbabwe Cricket.
How much will get to the players remains to be seen, with that organisation in enormous debt.
South Africa should win the Test comfortably, whatever the pitch they will encounter at the Harare Sports Club. “It’s most likely they will prepare quite a flat wicket,” said Russell Domingo, and in a sign perhaps that South Africa don’t regard Zimbabwe too seriously, added it would be good preparation for trips to the sub-continent next year.
Domingo wasn’t sure what to expect from Zimbabwe, which will make pre-match strategising a challenge. “We’ve been handed a squad of 25 players for the Test match, so we’ve got a lot of analysis to do,” he quipped.
“Hopefully that can be whittled down to 13 or 14 who we think will play. Jacques Kallis used to have a saying about these analysis meetings, he had a great idea – hit the top of off-stump with the odd bouncer. That is pretty much as simplistic as it can get. It doesn’t matter who you play, you have to do the basics well and we’ve done that really well over the last few Tests.”