Streak upbeat despite defeat
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak was in optimistic mood here Thursday even though his team's tour of England ended with a crushing seven-wicket triangular series one-day international defeat by South Africa.
Streak once again led from the front, his 50 not out top score in Zimbabwe's meagre 173 for eight after winning the toss in the first international staged at Hampshire's Rose Bowl ground.
But South Africa, already through to Saturday's Lord's final against England, easily overhauled that total with more than 14 overs to spare.
For Zimbabwe this defeat meant they ended their tour with just one series win to go with their two innings defeats in their Tests against England earlier in the season.
Streak, whose own individual performances never slackened despite the pressures on him, admitted: "Losing is always disappointing."
However, Streak was positive about his team's prospects following a tour which some wanted cancelled because of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's alleged human rights abuses.
"I've seen a lot of talent amongst the guys. There's a lot to work with. Geoff (Marsh, Zimbabwe coach) and I have got a long road ahead but in two or three years' time this could be a good side," 29-year-old fast bowler Streak insisted.
"Hopefully we won't lose any more players," added Streak in a reference to the black armband protests by star batsman Andy Flower and paceman Henry Olonga against Mugabe at the World Cup which signalled the end of the duo's international careers.
Zimbabwe have also lost the likes of batsman Murray Goodwin and all-rounder Neil Johnson in recent years with the pair pursuing more lucrative careers in domestic cricket.
But Streak said results such as Zimbabwe's four wicket triangular series opening win over England at Trent Bridge on June 26 meant a tremendous amount to their supporters back home.
"A lot of people take enjoyment and consolation from watching the team play. Our win at Trent Bridge would have done wonders."
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe their next international assignment is even tougher - a Test and one-day series away to world champions Australia starting in October.