Five reasons why...Zimbabwe and Ireland could only tie
1) Neither side has a winning habit
Zimbabwe, through reasons outside of their control, have long since been able to compete regularly at the top level and as such have been limited to one-day series against the likes of Bangladesh and associate nations. That they haven't been winning says as much about their lack of strength as it does for the improvement of the minor nations.
Ireland, on the other hand have had a horror run of losing close encounters, throwing away winning positions with gay abandon during the World Cricket League. They also had South Africa on the rack but couldn't close that one out.
Neither team could draw on any winning experiences when it mattered.
2) Ireland refused to give in when all seemed lost
Zimbabwe were nearly always in the box seat, but every time they threatened to get away, Ireland picked up a wicket and with 33 needed from 69 balls, it looked hopeless. However, the Irish drew on reserves that were almost Australian or South Africn in character and the steely looks of determination on every players' face just told you they weren't going to let this slip. Contrast that with...
3) Zimbabwe seemed scared of the situation
Where Ireland's players looked determined and driven, the Zimbabwe batsmen had fear written all over their expressions as they threw away chance after chance to make the game safe. Ireland must have seen this and moved in to seal the result.
4) Neither team was able to make the knockout blow
Ireland were in all sorts of trouble in their innings but Jeremy Bray was allowed to bat on, and on, and on and while he was there Ireland had a chance. Had Zimbabwe got rid of him early as they did every other batsmen, they'd have won without question.
Ireland, however, missed a simple run out chance before Matsikenyeri had scored and spilled four catches. Two were inconsequential, but had Bray caught Matsikenyeri before he had made 50, Ireland would surely have closed the game out.
5) Trent Johnston made the right calls at the right time
It may not be entirely fair to suggest that the Zimbabweans threw the game away - a lot of credit has to be given to Trent Johnston for bowling the right bowlers at the right time. Whenever Ireland needed a wicket, he made the bowling change to pick one up.
Who would have brought in Kevin O'Brien and Andrew White to bowl those final overs? Not many, but the man who mattered did and it paid off.
© Cricket World 2007