Tour review

West Indies v Zimbabwe, 2012-13

Tony Cozier

One-day internationals (3): West Indies 3, Zimbabwe 0
Twenty20 internationals (2): West Indies 2, Zimbabwe 0
Test matches (2): West Indies 2, Zimbabwe 0

Shane Shillingford celebrates Graeme Cremer's wicket, West Indies v Zimbabwe, 1st Test, Barbados, 3rd day, March 14, 2013
Shane Shillingford took a West Indies record of 19 wickets in the two-match series © WICB Media Photo/Randy Brooks
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Series/Tournaments: Zimbabwe tour of West Indies

West Indies have rarely, if ever, had it so easy. Although they had beaten New Zealand 2-0 at home the previous summer, and won both Tests in Bangladesh in November, there were times during both those series when they were under pressure. But in extending their victorious streak to six Tests, a sequence they had last achieved in 1988 against rather stiffer opposition in England and Australia under the captaincy of Viv Richards, they encountered negligible resistance from Zimbabwe. Building on a dominance established in the limited-overs matches, West Indies finished off both Tests inside eight sessions.

However, this was not really a sign of the long hoped for revival. Instead, it revealed the damage caused to Zimbabwe by their six-year, self-imposed exile from Test cricket and the scarcity of opposition: since a similarly ill-fated trip to New Zealand more than a year before, their only official international cricket had been two games at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. At the end of this tour, captain Brendan Taylor said: "It's been massively disappointing. We have been taught a proper lesson."

The Zimbabweans were also handicapped by the decision of their cash-strapped board not to allow batting coach Grant Flower, bowling coach Heath Streak or trainer Lorraine Chivandire to accompany the team. Head coach Alan Butcher, the former Surrey and England batsman on his last assignment, said the trio had been "a big part of our preparations"; Taylor described the move as "steps in the wrong direction".

On the field, Zimbabwe were ill-equipped to deal with unsatisfactory pitches that were over-helpful to spin. Shane Shillingford and his accomplice Marlon Samuels had a ball, sharing 29 wickets in the Tests. Shillingford claimed 19, a West Indian record for a two-match series, and his performance vindicated his selection ahead of the more celebrated white-ball man of mystery, Sunil Narine: in the circumstances, Shillingford's sharper turn and greater bounce provided a more aggressive option. The two off-spinners operated almost exclusively with fielders clustered around crease-bound batsmen: Kieran Powell and skipper Darren Sammy snared 13 close catches between them. Fast bowling was virtually redundant, although Shannon Gabriel - tall, strong and hostile - was always a threat.

The 50 made by opener Tino Mawoyo at Bridgetown was Zimbabwe's highest individual score in the Tests, while 211 in the same innings was their highest total. The top-order trio of Taylor, Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, who had been expected to carry the batting, all struggled.

Zimbabwe did have their moments: the controlled swing of the lively Kyle Jarvis helped reduce West Indies to 151 for six in the First Test, and 114 for three in the Second. But with their spinners ineffective, Zimbabwe could not sustain the pressure. At Bridgetown, they were denied by Sammy and Denesh Ramdin; and in Dominica, Chris Gayle hit a century after eight Test innings without a fifty, while Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored his third hundred in four Tests.

In the one-dayers, Zimbabwe's best effort was 273 for eight in the second match, but even that was overhauled with seven wickets to spare. Sammy was given a rest during the 50-over series, along with Gayle, who asked to be excused. Dwayne Bravo stood in as captain - and the appointment became permanent shortly afterwards.

Match reports for

Tour Match: University of West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI v Zimbabweans at St Andrew's, Feb 20, 2013
Report | Scorecard

1st ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at St George's, Feb 22, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at St George's, Feb 24, 2013
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3rd ODI: West Indies v Zimbabwe at St George's, Feb 26, 2013
Report | Scorecard

1st T20I: West Indies v Zimbabwe at North Sound, Mar 2, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd T20I: West Indies v Zimbabwe at North Sound, Mar 3, 2013
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Tour Match: Sagicor High Performance Centre v Zimbabweans at Bridgetown, Mar 7-9, 2013
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1st Test: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Bridgetown, Mar 12-14, 2013
Report | Scorecard

2nd Test: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Roseau, Mar 20-22, 2013
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.