Bloemfontein: Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak admitted his team's World Cup campaign had been blown off course by political intrigue and internal bickering following its crushing seven-wicket Super Six defeat by Kenya Wednesday.That loss, Zimbabwe's first One-day defeat against its fellow Africans, ended its slim chance of reaching the semi-finals.The Test team's World Cup hopes had been overshadowed by the black armband protest aimed at Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, carried out by senior players Andy Flower and Henry Olonga during their opening match of the tournament against Namibia in Harare.
And, as that controversy continued to rumble on, selector Andy Pycroft resigned in the build-up to Wednesday's Super Six match. He told he had not been consulted about the team that lost to New Zealand at Goodyear Park here on Saturday.Former captain Pycroft added that the side he, Streak and other members of the Zimbabwe management in Bloemfontein had chosen for this match, had been rejected by the majority of the selection panel back home.
"You don't always get the teams you want," admitted a drained Streak. "But I'm not permitted to discuss what went on in selection," he told reporters after Zimbabwe had been skittled out for just 133, Kenya winning with 24 overs to spare.And he conceded Zimbabwe had struggled to cope with the political wrangles which had enveloped the team. "It's been tough. There have been a lot of political insinuations."It's been difficult for the players to keep focused on cricket," added Streak whose side gained four points by forfeit after England boycotted its group match in Harare.
"The guys have tried to handle it to the best of their ability but we can't use it as an excuse."Streak, who won the toss and decided to bat first on a slow wicket, insisted his side had not been complacent. "We expect to win every game we play. But we didn't underestimate Kenya. We weren't proactive enough and there were too many soft dismissals," the paceman explained.And he added that the Kenyans deserved their place following criticism that the path of Steve Tikolo's men into the Super Six had been eased because of the points they gained for victory by forfeit over New Zealand."They've got a very basic but disciplined game plan. But it has worked for them," streak said.
"They put India under pressure when they played them too and it is not a side to be taken lightly. Their tails are up now." Streak refused to comment on whether or not he would carry on as skipper, but he did admit the defeat was one of his worst days as an international cricketer. "It's hard to say if it's the lowest point. But it's got to go down as one of them."However, we've got one game to go (against Sri Lanka at East London on Saturday) and we've still pride to play for."Copyright AFP 2001