A Test side since 1992, Zimbabwe have been playing cricket for more than 100 years and have played on the game’s biggest stages and against the best teams. They have produced many legendary players throughout the years, with many of these leaving to join other teams and some staying to create history with their birth nation.
As of late 2015, Zimbabwe have played in close to 100 Test matches and they have also competed in a number of International tournaments, including the ICC World Cup.
Zimbabwe were given Test status in 1992, but they had a cricket team long before this. They have been known as Zimbabwe since they achieved independence from the British in 1980. 15 years prior to that they were known as Rhodesia, and prior to that they were known as Southern Rhodesia.
Zimbabwe’s love of cricket comes from its connection to South Africa and Britain, with the game being played here for over 100 years. In 1904, they established the first official national team and participated in the Currie Cup, which they continued to enter, albeit sporadically, over the next few decades.
Cricket first began to take off in the country when they gained indolence, became known as Zimbabwe and then began to compete in several international tournaments. They won the ICC Trophy in 1992 and in their first ever World Cup they raised a few eyebrow when they beat Australia in the first match.
Because there was no professional domestic league within the country, and because they had yet to achieve Test status, many of their better players would later leave to play elsewhere, and this weakened what had been a rapidly improving team. This included Graeme Hick, who decided that he was better off playing in England for Worcestershire and then for the England national side, despite being born in Zimbabwe.
There were a few players who began playing for Zimbabwe and then moved on to play for England. Mentioned above, Graeme Hick was one, but so was Alistair Campbell and Andy Flower, with the latter holding the record for the most career runs scored, at close to 5,000. Zimbabwe have produced may other big players, with the likes of Anthony Ireland, who retired to play county cricket in England, and his cousin, Guy Whittall, both doing enough to cement themselves in Zimbabwean history.
Eddo Brandes, Kevin Curran, Grant Flower (brother of Andy, who is just ahead of him on the Career Run Total table) and Murray Goodwin have also helped to improve the status of Zimbabwe cricket over the years and many have worked their way into the record books. Neil Johnson’s name can also be found in the record books. He opened for Zimbabwe during the 1999 World Cup, won a handful of Man-of-the-Match awards and helped his team to a few historic victories.
Zimbabwe did not play at the first two World Cups and didn’t make it past the group stage of the next two. They went one better in 1992 when they edged into the Round Robin stage, their best performance to date and one of their best ever. They have not advanced beyond the first round in the Twenty20, despite appearing in 4 competitions, and they also dropped out of the first round of the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
Their best results have come in the ICC Trophy, which they won in 1982, 1986 and 1990. This competition includes teams that many would expect Zimbabwe to have no trouble beating, including the Netherlands and Kenya, who are often two of the tournament’s best performers. However, it has also included Bangladesh, who are certainly no pushovers. In fact, in all three of their ICC Trophy successes, Zimbabwe found themselves facing Bangladesh, including the 1986 group stage, and both the 1990 and the 1982 semi-finals.
From 1992, when they were given their Test status, up the end of 2015, Zimbabwe had won just 11 of their 97 Test matches, drawing 26 and losing 60. They have yet to beat either Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka or England in Test matches, despite playing them a combination of 55 times. They have beaten India on more than one occasion though and they have also recorded multiple wins against Bangladesh and Pakistan.