ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) is in the process of brewing a cricket revolution that will take over the reins from the old guard who have been good ambassadors of the game over the past decade-and-a-half.
The majority of national team players who have raised the country’s flag high in recent years were thrown into the deep end during the rebel era 17 years ago.
In April 2004 disaster struck when 13 white cricket players went on strike after the board refused to meet their demands.
A 14-man squad was hastily assembled to fulfil the home series against Sri Lanka. The players that took part in the first ODI, an encouraging 12-run (D/L method) defeat captained by former skipper Tatenda Taibu comprised Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Dion Ebrahim, Elton Chigumbura, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Alester Maregwede, Mluleki Nkala, Tinashe Panyangara, Douglas Hondo and Prosper Utseya.
Taibu is now retired and had a stint as convenor of selectors, Chigumbura recently called time on his international career, Utseya is coaching Zimbabwe U19 while Hondo and Matsikenyeri have since been incorporated in the Chevrons’ setup as bowling and batting coaches respectively. Sibanda is doing odd commentary gigs in Australia, leaving only former captain Taylor as the sole survivor of that historic 2004 squad that played in that first ODI against Sri Lanka.
On Tuesday, ZC announced a youthful squad ahead of next month’s Afghanistan tour scheduled for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates as the association takes a giant step forward in preparing for the future.
“It is all about continuity, we now have to look into the future and the best way to do that is to blood the youngsters while they still have the support of the seniors.
“We don’t want to have a situation whereby we only have novices lining up in the side after all the experienced players are gone,” ZC managing director Givemore Makoni told the Daily News yesterday.
“Our main batters are not well and can’t travel to Afghanistan so it’s an opportunity for the youngsters to show what they can do.
“Afghanistan are a very good side, they have developed into an experienced side. But we have confidence in our selection and the senior guys will provide much-needed support and guidance during the series.”
The 15-man Test squad announced on Tuesday will take on the Asians in two-Test matches scheduled for March 2-6 and March 10-14.
The T20I games are scheduled for March 17, 19 and 20.
The travelling squad comprises players such as towering seamer Blessing Muzarabani (24), leg spinner Brendon Mavuta (23), pacer Richard Ngarava (23), spinner Wellington Masakadza (27) and opener Kevin Kasuza (27). Batsman Tarisai Musakanda, who has not played another Test match since he made his debut away to Sri Lanka in July 2017, has bounced back to reclaim his place in the national side following some impressive performances on the domestic scene. The 20-year-old sensation Wesley Madhevere, who has already caused waves in limited-overs international cricket, is also set to earn his first test cap.
Madhevere made his international cricket debut when Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh last year.
The preparations for the tour were disrupted by the current blanket ban on all sporting activities in the country and as a result domestic competitions and leagues are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the government.
ZC set up Northern and Southern teams as criteria to make up for the lost time and intensify their preparations. They had four-day matches which were played in a bio-bubble concept in Harare.
The Chevrons will not have some of their key players who were sidelined due to injury including veteran Taylor who failed to join the national team camp due to illness.
“Tendai Chatara and Chamu Chibhabha have also missed out as they are yet to fully recover from right upper-arm and thigh muscle injuries, respectively,” ZC said in a statement.
“PJ Moor was ruled out too after he suffered a hamstring injury during a practice match this week.”
Zimbabwe Test Squad for Afghanistan Tour:
Sean Williams (captain), Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza Butt, Regis Chakabva, Kevin Kasuza, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Prince Masvaure, Brandon Mavuta, Tarisai Musakanda, Richmond Mutumbami, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Donald Tiripano