Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
HOST nation Zimbabwe will field an experienced squad at next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier with players that have played close to a combined 900 one-day internationals.
The Zimbabwe squad released by the ICC yesterday prior to the Chevrons’ ODI series against Afghanistan had players with a combined 842 ODIs.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer will lead Zimbabwe, whose hopes with the bat are hinged on former skipper Brendan Taylor, who showed his class with a century in the second ODI against Afghanistan on Sunday.
Taylor and Craig Ervine have played in three and two ICC Cricket World Cups respectively, while Tendai Chatara, Cremer, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire and Sikandar Raza were also part of the Zimbabwe squad at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
Despite pressure for chairman of selectors Tatenda Taibu and his panel to include the in-form Cephas Zhuwao following the left-hander’s good form against Kenya in a limited overs series match in Mutare, they instead stuck with batsmen that are struggling for form, such as Ryan Burl, Malcolm Waller and Peter Moor.
Injury has ruled out left-hander Sean Williams, who is nursing a broken finger. Williams posted a picture on social media yesterday of his injured hand and indicated that he will only be ready to start training in three weeks’ time. Teams are only allowed to change their teams up to February 25.
Veteran pace bowler Christopher Mpofu missed out on selection. The lanky bowler has fallen down the pecking order since the return of Kyle Jarvis and emergence of raw talent Blessing Muzarabani.
Mpofu, who seemed to have regenerated his career with a polished show against Afghanistan, has had his cause not helped by the return to form of Tendai Chatara and left-arm seamer Brian Vitori being allowed to bowl.
Zimbabwe have been drawn in group B alongside the ICC World Cricket League runners-up, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland. First up for the Chevrons is a clash with the ICC World Cricket League Division Two runners-up at Queens Sports Club on March 4.
The biggest group stage match is on March 6 when they meet Afghanistan at Queens Sports Club. After a few days’ rest, Zimbabwe take to the field at Queens Sports Club to face Hong Kong on March 10 before they round off their group fixtures two days later against Scotland at Bulawayo Athletic Club.
Zimbabwe squad for ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier
Graeme Cremer (captain), Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.
Coach: Heath Streak