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Anger turns to rage: Zimbabwe's loyal fans tear into team, players

13/06/2016 00:00:00
by Cricbuzz.com
 
 
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EVEN in the ongoing sorry state of on-field affairs, Zimbabwe cricketers always had their 'Castle Corner' to look up to.

'Castle Corner' at the quaint Harare Sports Club is a section in the stands that houses a small but immensely vociferous and passionate set of fans who came together and formed the Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Union more than a decade ago.

A regular day in the office for this lot involved a lot of song, dance and strong support for their national team, something that has been on for over a decade now.

By Monday (June 13) afternoon, however, when Zimbabwe had handed the series to India on a platter, Castle Corner was empty. Rather, vacated in protest.

The Union, led by its chairman, occupied the seats on the left of their den, holding up banners and shouting emotional chants in Shona to convey their utter displeasure at the turn of events.

Given that they were the only section of fans in the crowd on a working day, it was nearly impossible for the players on the outfield to ignore what they had to say and display.

At one point during India's innings, when Zimbabwe were well and truly out of the contest, the chants grew loud enough for Karun Nair, the batsman at that point, to turn around and take notice.

Being recognised by the board didn't dilute the strong opinions of the members of the Union.

"They're not as good as they're supposed to be, but still we support them. We are not worried about defeats, we just want them to be competitive," Louie, the chairman of the Union, had proudly stated during the first ODI.

Last straw

Monday's abysmal show was the last straw.

To put things in perspective, Zimbabwe, as a country and as a cricket team, are perhaps going through their leanest patch.

The struggling economy has had a clear impact on the well-being of the country's sport for a long time and they clearly seem to be neck-deep in quicksand.

Yet, when Sikandar Raza and Vusi Sibanda came together for a 67-run stand to take the fight to the opposition, there was a renewed sense of hope. The slight show of effort in a particular fixture would've rekindled hopes for a massive revival. As it turned out for, 'it's the hope that kills you'.



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Of all the things that fans put into supporting a team or a nation, it's the emotional investment and hence the constant gratification for it that takes utmost precedence.

A complete annihilation by a far-superior opponent is still not the most bitter pill to swallow. On occasions when they're taken on an emotional roller-coaster and left to rue 'what could've been' is when the outburst gets triggered.

When Raza tried to break the shackles in the 27th over, he ended up breaking the resolve of the 30-odd in the stands.

"I could be making a living, but I am here supporting this s***," said one fan. "Thank god, I am unemployed," said another.

Disbelief, anger and dark sarcasm

The grey clouds that hovered over Harare Sports Club in the morning had cleared out before the start of play, but the gloom stayed on and made its presence felt.


A disappointed Sikandar Raza walks back

The atmosphere was sullied by a heady concoction of disbelief, anger, dark sarcasm and extreme opinions by the time Zimbabwe came on to field.

It was all sort of cruel that Taurai Muzarabami, one of the junior-most members of the squad, was the fielder closest to that particular stand. He was left having to face the wrath of furious fans against the national cricketers and perhaps wonder about the uncertain future of the sport in the country.

Monday's proceedings were a clear demonstration of the fact that objectivity takes a sidestep where high-voltage emotions are involved.

"It's the fight that counts" is another one of the famous sporting cliches that this set of Zimbabwean supports would want their team to swear by.

Great disappointment

Nyasha, another Zimbabwe fan but not a member of the Union, condemned their acts and felt they needed to understand the gravity of the situation in the country and its cricket are presently in.

The affiliation with the board allows the Union to forge a healthy relationship with the players but events like these tend to damage them beyond repair.


Vusi Sibanda

Vusi Sibanda, who was at the heart of Zimbabwe's collapse and took the burden of the defeat upon himself, reckoned the personal comments weren't acceptable.

"You expect them to back you to the hilt," Sibanda said with great disappointment.

If the no-show from cricketers has invoked the dark side of these fans, their outburst has also pushed the cricketers to the limit.

"I don't want to be saying this, but I am almost tempted to ask some of them to come on and do my job. It's not easy, given the circumstances in the country," he said.

Zimbabwe cricket finds itself in deep trenches and the fact that even their most loyal fans have openly turned against them only adds to the relentless pressures.


 
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