The brilliant show by Kyle Jarvis against Bangladesh did not go unnoticed……..
Despite finishing Zimbabwe’s leading wicket-taker in the ODIs and Tests, Kyle Jarvis has very little to show for his efforts. Zimbabwe were comprehensively beaten in the ODI series and in the Tests, while they pulled off an incredible win in the first Test, in the second Test at Mirpur, their bowlers let them down. However, Jarvis stood out for them. It is always heartening to see a fast bowler pick up a 5-wicket haul in the sub-continent. Jarvis’ efforts in the second Test finished with 5-71, which was a commendable effort, considering how little there was on the pitch for the quicks.
Even in the Sylhet Test, Jarvis’ three wickets in the match was a good effort as he also kept things tight and did not let the batsmen get the hang of him. The role of a fast bowler even on such tracks cannot be under-estimated and Jarvis proved his worth in it.
Recently, Jarvis revealed how he idolises Australian great Glenn McGrath. Like McGrath, Jarvis too started off as a tearaway fast bowler. But over time, both the fast bowlers decided to focus on line and length at the cost of pace. “Growing up, Glenn McGrath was always my hero,” Jarvis told ESPNcricinfo. “I have developed this action over the years. I have always tried to mimic and follow everything in the way he went about his game, and the lines and lengths he bowled. He was definitely an inspiration growing up.”
The best thing about McGrath was his simplicity. He had a smooth run-up, comfortable approach towards the crease, simple front-arm action and hit the ball in the right areas 9 times out of 10. Jarvis too follows a similar approach, which is why it has been difficult for the Bangladesh batsmen to score easily off him.
Fitness will be key. Zimbabwe have had bowlers like Brian Vitori, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu and Tinashe Panyangara to name a few miss out many matches due to injuries in the past. Jarvis is now the spearhead of the bowling attack and at 29, he must look after his body more than ever. Having him back in the international fold is a huge relief for Zimbabwe. He is slowly but steadily, making himself irreplaceable.
Also read: A morale victory for Zimbabwe
It was not long ago that Jarvis had accepted a Kolpak deal with Lancashire, which brought his international career to an end. Also, Brendan Taylor, who struck twin centuries in the Mirpur Test too moved to England after the 2015 World Cup. In September 2017, things took a positive turn for Zimbabwe as Jarvis and Taylor decided to end their stints in England and return to international cricket. Jarvis returned four years after signing the Kolpak deal, while Taylor’s time away from Zimbabwe was just 2 and a half years.
Jarvis quit playing for Zimbabwe just 2 years after making his debut. Zimbabwe at that period were facing hardships financially and Jarvis, in order to gain some financial security, thought that it would be best for him to play for a County in England, rather than his own country. The good news for him and Taylor was that Zimbabwe Cricket welcomed them back with open arms. The then convenor of selectors Tatenda Taibu wasted little time in bringing these two back into the fold.
Jarvis had a successful stint at Lancashire, where he picked up 155 First-Class wickets, which included eight 5-wicket hauls and picked up 10 wickets in a match once. So, he was not exactly rusty or it wasn’t the case of lack of good performances.
He played his first match after return in the Test series against West Indies at home and since then he has shown that he belongs at this level and has a lot more to offer. The two-Test series against Bangladesh was the only Test series they played all year. The ICC quickly jumped to Zimbabwe’s aid when they were severely short of funds recently. Due to the governing body’s interference, the salaries to cricketers have been paid and a few players like Sikandar Raza who refused to play till he got his remuneration are happy once to be playing cricket for their country again.
Zimbabwe have had many excellent bowlers over the years, but nobody barring Heath Streak has picked up over 100 wickets. Streak leads the list with 216 wickets, while the next highest wicket-taker is Ray Price with 80 scalps. In Zimbabwe’s defence, they have played just 24 Tests in the last 10 years and as a result, there was very little scope for anyone to challenge Streak’s numbers.
Graeme Cremer (57) and Jarvis (46) are the only two active cricketers in the leading wicket-takers list for Zimbabwe. Had the affairs at ZC been better, we could have seen many challenging Streak’s record. But for now, Zimbabwe consider themselves lucky if they play a few matches here and there.
After bailing ZC out financially, it is now the duty of the ICC to work closely with ZC to chalk out a schedule for the next 2 to 3 years. Zimbabwe are not playing the World Cup next year, but the can always play some bilateral series with other nations. Only then, will players like Jarvis and his teammates be able to continue testing themselves at the highest level.