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Not qualifying for T20 World Cup is a tough pill to swallow, says Ryan Burl

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Not qualifying for T20 World Cup is a tough pill to swallow, says Ryan Burl

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Anirudh Suresh


Zimbabwean cricketer Ryan Burl has revealed that the country’s suspension from the ICC has been a tough pill to swallow for the players, mainly due to the fact that they missed out on qualification for the 2020 T20 World Cup. He also heaped praise on the “inspirational” Hamilton Masakadza.

Two months ago, world cricket came to a standstill after news broke out that Zimbabwe were suspended by the International Cricket Council. The Zimbabwe Cricket Board breached ICC’s strict policy against political interference and hence had to face the wrath of their own gaffe, meaning their national teams - both men and women - got suspended with immediate effect. 

This, in turn, meant that the players had to face harrowing consequences, that of missing out on international cricket and more importantly, an opportunity to qualify for the 2020 T20 World Cup. The team was subsequently replaced by Namibia in WT20 Qualifiers and all the players could do was stand back and watch in horror as the events unfolded. Several cricketers including the likes of Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza voiced their opinion against ICC’s decision, but unfortunately, to no avail. 

Now, batsman Ryan Burl, who starred in the first match of the ongoing T20I tri-series by blasting a 32-ball 57 against Bangladesh, has revealed that it was a dark time for Zimbabwe cricket when the controversy unravelled and that the players found it difficult to cope with the news. He also expressed his sympathy for the senior members of the team, who now arguably have lost out on one final opportunity to represent their country on a world stage. 

“For everyone involved in the cricketing community in Zimbabwe it’s been a tough pill to swallow not qualifying for the World Cup,” Burl told SportsCafe in an exclusive interview. 

“Obviously for a few guys it would have been their last opportunity to play in a World Cup, and I feel they have probably hurt the most,” he added.

Burl also heaped praise on Hamilton Masakadza - a Zimbabwean cricketing icon - who’d announced earlier that he would hang up his boots post the conclusion of the ongoing T20 tri-series. Masakadza made his debut for the national team way back in 2001 and went on to represent Zimbabwe in 209 ODIs and 38 Tests in a career that has now spanned 18 years. 

“Hamilton has been an extremely long servant of the game in Zimbabwe, and he has inspired many young children in Zimbabwe to take up the game. He obviously has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the game, so it’s been useful to pick his brain and learn from him,”  he said of the retiring Zimbabwe skipper. 

For batsmen from outside the sub-continent, the biggest challenge whilst batting in Asia, arguably, is to be able to read the spinners, pick their variations and negate their threat. Very few batsmen in history have succeeded in doing so and in all honesty, the numbers don’t look like increasing any time soon. Burl spoke about the challenge of facing the spinners - both Afghanistan and Bangladesh - and expressed his delight over coming up against Shakib Al Hasan, someone he’d looked up to and admired.  Incidentally, Burl smacked Shakib for 30 runs off a single over in their clash last week. 

“I’ve played quite a few games against the Afghan spinners, who are obviously world-class bowlers. The last game was the first time against Shakib, which was pretty special because he is a guy who I’ve only watched on tv and admired very much.

“I can’t pick any as I feel they are all great bowlers in their own respect and offer so much to any team they play for. Rashid and Mujeeb have a lot of mystery about them, whereas Nabi and Shakib have such great control and use of their wrist position to be able to get the ball to turn or skid on.”

Being a part-time leg-spinner himself, Burl said that he has been consciously working on his bowling, to add an extra element to his arsenal. He credited his coaches for helping him polish that aspect of his game, which has come leaps and bounds over the course of the last few months. In fact, it was evident in his spell against Bangladesh at Dhaka, when he accounted for the important scalp of Mahmudullah. 

“Over the last year I’ve worked extremely hard on my bowling. It’s something that I have consciously gone out of my way to ensure that I can add an extra element to my game, and make me more valuable as a cricketer. So I must also give credit to be bowler coaches for helping me and pushing me,” Burl spoke of his bowling. 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Zimbabwe cricket, Burl said that he has not taken a decision regarding his playing future. His compatriots - Kyle Jarvis and Brendan Taylor - in the past have opted for Kolpak deals, but the all-rounder feels that he’ll still have to wait for a while before he takes a decision on his playing future. 

“Unfortunately I can’t directly answer this question and I’m unsure of what the situation is regarding Zimbabwe’s funding and future. So we will have to see what happens in the next couple of months,” he signed off.  

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