Not qualifying for World Cup still haunts Zimbabwe: Sean Williams
Sean Williams has not forgotten Zimbabwe's loss in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this year. (Getty Image)

It’s been seven months since Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the World Cup following a loss to the UAE in March in the qualifiers, but its wound still remains fresh. The repercussion of the loss was such that Zimbabwe have not yet been able to pick themselves up since. After losing the Qualifiers, Zimbabwe endured back-to-back clean sweeps – 0-5 against Pakistan in July and just two days ago, a 0-3 loss at the hands of Australia.

Allrounder Sean Williams admits that the result of their rain-affected game still haunts Zimbabwe and their players. Chasing 230 in 40 overs in a rain-affected match, Zimbabwe needed 15 off the last over, but fell agonisingly short by three runs. Their chase had been powered by Williams, who’d scored 80, but his dismissal in the 37th over left the lower order with too much to do.

“It is very difficult,” Williams said. “That game against UAE still haunts all of us, the guys who played in that game.”

The bigger damage however was the extent to which Zimbabwe’s confidence was dented following that heart-breaking loss. Against South Africa, they failed to capitalise on the key moments. In the first two ODI’s the visiting team had South Africa’s batting in trouble but allowed them chances to fight back in both matches. It has now been eight ODIs and four T20 internationals that Zimbabwe have gone winless.

“It doesn’t feel good to lose a match, or lose a series,” Williams said. “Losing the series hurts more than losing this match, but losing this match today takes a lot of pride away from us, and I feel there was a lot of pride to play for in this match [even] after losing the series. After giving ourselves good chances to win the previous two games, we let that slip. Today, on a better wicket to bat on, the top six didn’t take advantage. A lot to learn. A tough series for us, and a hurtful one.”

Williams, who had scored 4 and 9 in the first two games, top-scored with 69 in Bloemfontein and added 73 runs for the fourth wicket with Brendan Taylor, a partnership that recovered Zimbabwe from 3/44.

“[This innings] was extremely important for me,” he said. “The last time I scored runs was against UAE, it was an 80. I failed to get to a 100 and I failed to cross the line for the team. It hurt, it really did hurt me. Batting on these next two wickets [in the first two South Africa ODIs] was extremely difficult, but I knew I was one knock away from finding my form again.

Williams, who struck 10 boundaries during his 79-ball knock, feels Zimbabwe have nothing to lose as they get ready to lock horns again with South Africa, only this time in the T20 format.

“We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain,” he said. “As far as I see it, [in the T20s] like a boxer, if you get hit first, you’re going to lose the game. It’s going to be up to us to land the first punch in the T20s and give it everything.”