Chevrons, Netherlands clash in 3 friendlies
Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE cricket coach Heath Streak will be closely monitoring his player fitness and strength levels as a select team, comprising mostly the national team personnel, take on the visiting Netherlands in a one day rehearsal at the Harare Sports Club this morning.
The Chevrons have been out of action since their historic tour of the Sri Lanka two months ago.
But they hope to shake off the rust with three 50-over matches which have been spread across this week until Sunday.
The matches, however, are not recognised as official series since the Dutch do not have an ODI status.
The teams last met in June with Zimbabwe claiming a 2-1 win.
This reciprocal tour is set to benefit both sides ahead of important assignments coming up next month.
Zimbabwe are set to host West Indies, who are set to bring Chris Gayle and company, while the Dutch have two crucial matches coming up against Kenya in the World Cricket League Championship early October.
“As I have alluded to, these are more of friendly matches but we are obviously not taking Netherlands lightly. They are a very good team and you can see they are coming to the end of their cricket season which means they have been playing many games.
“But we would want to give an opportunity to our squad ahead of the tour by West Indies. We will try to win each and every match that we are going to play,” said Streak.
Zimbabwe are set to welcome the West Indies next month for two Tests.
However, the start-stop approach to international cricket has been a cause of concern for both the players and the authorities.
National team skipper Graeme Cremer will lead the side that has familiar faces such as Sean Williams, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Chamu Chibhabha, Solomon Mire, Sikandar Raza and PJ Moor.
The team intensified preparations last week with focus on fitness and conditioning.
Streak welcomed fast bowler Tendai Chatara and Sikandar Raza who were involved in the Afghan Shpageeza T20 final last Friday.
“A lot of our guys have been playing some form of cricket of late, probably with the exception of our captain Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Chris Mpofu.
“We have had a fitness and strength phase last week and obviously we are happy, this marks the beginning of our playing phase.
“The domestic league is coming up and we also have the Pakistan A tour and then we engage the West Indies,” said Streak.
The second match against the Netherlands is on Friday with the last on Sunday.
The tourists arrived in the country at the weekend and have been busy putting the final touches to their preparations.
The Dutch have also embarked on team-building exercise visiting a safari lodge on the outskirts of Harare for game viewing and wildlife experience.
They visited Imire Lodge, a wildlife sanctuary just an hour-and-half drive outside the capital, and they have been posting images of their visit on their official Twitter account.
“Set in a tranquil surrounding within the conservancy is Imire Lodge,” the conservancy say on their official account.
“Managed by Kate Travers and Chris Carless, a highly-experienced chef and management team, The Imire Lodge offers welcoming family style hospitality, fine home cooking and spectacular game viewing.
“Four of the big five guaranteed! Experience unique close encounters with some of the world’s most intriguing and endangered animals.
“A day trip visit includes a full game drive and lunch served in the conservancy with a visit from the elephants or rhino as a highlight of the day.”
The tour has more significance to the tourists who are aiming to impress and get a shot in the ODI league.
The Netherlands currently lead the ICC World Championship League and this has virtually earned them a place in next year’s World Cup qualifying tournament which is likely to take place in Zimbabwe.
The Dutch are using this tour to focus on the upcoming World Cricket League Championship matches against Kenya starting on October 6 in Nairobi.
They welcomed back in their squad Pieter Seelaar and Vivian Kingma who had been sidelined by injuries for some time.
Their coach Ryan Campbell was upbeat ahead of the tour.
Zimbabwe Select: Graeme Cremer (Captain), Regis Chakabva (Wicketkeeper), Peter Moor (Wicketkeeper), Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Christopher Mpofu, Richard Ngarava, Tarisai Musakanda, Ryan Burl, Malcolm Waller, Tendai Chatara
Netherlands: Peter Borren (Capt,) Wesley Barresi, Ben Cooper, Quirijn Gunning, Paul van Meekeren, Stephan Myburgh, Max O”Dowd, Tobias Visée, Sikander Zulfiqar, Roelof van der Merwe, Michael Rippon, Timm van der Gugten, Fred Klaassen, Vivian Kingma, Pieter Seelaar.