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Time to separate the boys from the men

I have loads of questions about the Netherlands chase against Ireland and how Dale Steyn defended seven runs in the last over.

EVENTS of the last week in Bangladesh have left me totally stumped. I have loads of questions about the Netherlands chase against Ireland and how Dale Steyn defended seven runs in the last over.

It has been an exhilarating roller coaster ride; fasten your seat belts here we go.

Well, Zimbabwe is back home as expected, but as unexpected so are the much fancied Irish. The Dutch shocked all and sundry with a devastating batting display to top the group.

The Dutch were out of the competition having to chase 171 in less than 14 overs. The fit, even if achieved by a serious batting side like the Indians would have been unreal, but for an associate made up of part time cricketers it appeared a million years away.

They made Twenty20 (T20) history by smashing a record number of sixes and proceeding to the main tournament. If one batsman had scored the majority of the runs it would be easier to comprehend, but anyone who strode to the middle in a tangerine shirt hit the ball out of the ground effortlessly.

I still cannot figure out if it was really good, crisp hitting or bad bowling or a combination of both. To sustain a run rate of 15 an over for so long is unbelievable.

The win left the Irish and Zimbabweans scratching their heads trying to figure out what might have been and where they went wrong.

No sooner had the Dutch stopped celebrating reaching the dizzy heights; they were brought back to earth with a serious thud.

Sri Lanka showed the world what should happen when a power house plays an associate, separate the boys from the man so to speak.

The Dutch were dismissed for an embarrassing 39 in 10 overs. The Sri Lankans lost one wicket in the chase and achieved their target in less than five overs.

The game was so short that SuperSport had to screen the entire match to make up the highlight package. “Welcome back, it’s nice to have you here to earth the Netherlands”!

The Indians and Sri Lankans look like the early pacesetters and will take some beating. It is T20 cricket though and anything is possible, that is why we love this game. New Zealand looked set for a second win against a choking South African outfit, but Steyn showed the world why he is the premier fast bowler in the world with quite an extraordinary last over.

Steyn picked up two wickets and only conceded one four in the over to guide the Proteas home. Five dot balls in the last over of a T-20 match is unheard off. Steyn only had the chance to bowl his side to victory, thanks to a great innings from JP Duminy who is fast becoming a world-class star.

The South Africans are still in with a shout, make no mistake, especially if the world’s best player AB de Villiers comes to the party.

 Closer to home, Tuskers grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in the Logan Cup match against the Southern Rocks. Nkosana Mpofu was the “rock” excuse the pan, of the Tuskers innings, carrying his bat and getting his maiden first-class century.

Those in local cricketing circles will know the potential the young man has shown from a very early age and will be pleased as punch to see that potential turned into results. He is one of many players that has grabbed with both hands the opportunity thrust his way. Does this mean there is a Test future for Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC)?

It was pleasing to see the performance of Richmond Mutumbami, who many felt should have been on the plane to Bangladesh. He scored more than 200 runs in the match albeit being grassed a couple of times by butter-fingered fielders from Tuskers.

These boys must be groomed and not let to wallow away at the end of the season which is less than two months away. It is heartening to here that ZC will focus on the A side to groom players for the future as reality is sinking in that the current crop of players are nearing their sell-by date.

 As promised in last week’s column, On the Crease can let you know that the players who did battle – and the word “battle” used loosely – in the World Cup for Zimbabwe will pocket up to $40 000, each.

The players will be paid on a sliding scale with the big five taking home the highest amount. The lower end players will take home around $15 000. Not bad money for a little over six hours work for most bowlers and a little more for the batsmen. “O” is for over, six legitimate balls from one bowler in row.