Hi folks. I’m Maehara, the webmaster of zimcricketnews.com, and Damith has asked me to do a little preview of the Zimbabwe squad for the series against Sri Lanka – and seeing some of his comments on the Canada Cup matches (“some random black guy is batting…”), it’s clear one’s needed! 🙂
Zimbabwe Cricket only announced their squad today (Wednesday) – they’ve left it a bit late, which is why this article is so last- minute as well. Let’s take a look at who we’ve got, though.
Prosper Utseya – captain and usually very frugal spin bowler, he has spent some time in the top 10 of the ICC’s bowling rankings and has been a permanent fixture of the Zimbabwe side for a few years
now. Nicknamed “Dots” – he bowls a lot of dot balls – his form has suffered since taking up the captaincy and he’s not as useful as he once was. His decisions as captain have also been questionable lately- he’s developed an annoying habit of bowling out 2nd-string bowlers and leaving front-line guys with overs left unbowled that shows a lack of tactical awareness. Zc don’t seem inclined to replace him, though, so expect to see a lot of him.
Chamu Chibhabha– one of Zim’s few batsmen of real quality, he’s got a good range of shots and a better temperament for building an innings than pretty much anyone else currently in the side. A key
player who has saved us from embarrassment more than once…
Elton Chigumbura – nicknamed “Boom Boom” by some, he’s a powerful hitter who can be very useful when you need some quick runs, but can also get carried away and give his wicket up cheaply – if he
could just learn to control the urge to slog, he’d be a lot more useful. Very entertaining to watch when he gets going, though – expect sixes…
Kieth Dabengwa – apparently an all-rounder, his continued selection by ZC is a mystery to every Zimbabwe fan. His bowling is expensive and his batting erratic, but he’s played one or two good
innings at key times and the selectors seem willing to forgive every failure on the back of them. More likely to make short cameo appearances with the bat, though, and to give away a huge number of
runs while bowling towards the end of the innings.
Timycen Maruma – offspin bowler with a good record in domestic cricket, he’s been on the edge of the national side for a while now – but Zim has no shortage of spinners and he’s having trouble breaking through. Has played 4 ODIs so far and has yet to impress. Usually fighting with Graeme Cremer for his place – Cremer is by far the better bowler, but he’s missed out on this occasion. In his favour, Maruma can bat a little, butnot well enough to be a useful allrounder.
Hamilton Masakadza – one of Zim’s most experienced players, he’s a batsman with loads of talent and (a typical Zimbabwean trait this) questionable temperament. Scored a century on his Test debut against West Indies, but has only been moderately consistent since then. Occasional bowler.
Shingirai Masakadza– Hamilton’s little brother, whose bowling impressed during the Logan Cup (domestic first-class competition) last season – he’s been playing in the ‘A’ side for most of this year and has now been rewarded for his efforts. How he’ll perform at the top level is an unknown, but he’s a player who we’re expecting to do well.
Stuart Matsikenyeri – another stalwart of the side, his recent form hasn’t really done anything to repay the faith the selectors have shown in him. Often gets starts without pushing on, and despite being technically good has yet to score a ton after six years of trying. Also a useful off-spinner.
Chris Mpofu– one of our few pace bowlers, which makes him almost indispensable, and he is decently reliable with the ball. Regarded by some as one of the worst batsmen in international cricket,
though, with some depressingly comical dismissals to his name.
Tawanda Mupariwa– another medium-pace bowler who came of age with some outstanding performances during Zim’s last tour to the West Indies, and wields the bat somewhat better than Mpofu manages to. Has had some injury problems of late, but if he’s back on form should be
an automatic selection.
Forster Mutizwa- a bit of a mystery, this one. Batsman who plays for Easterns in domestic competition and has reasonable figures for them, but is so far untested at the top level. Only expecting to
see him play if injury forces his selection.
Ray Price– Legend. Left-arm spinner with economy that rivals Utseya and adds the ability to actually take wickets. Most valuable bowler, and can bat a little too – very useful in holding the tail together. A key player and the only white player left who’s still regarded an automatic selection.
Ed Rainsford – Rainsford is Zim’s fastest bowler, but has spent the last few years in the wilderness after falling out of favour with ZC. The past year has seen him work his way back through the development sides, though, and now he’s finally got a shot at rejoining the national side – his last match against a Full Member side was in Feb ’07.
Vusi Sibanda – Opening batsman – when he’s good he’s very good, but as is so often the case with our batsmen, too often gets himself out before really getting going.
Tatenda Taibu – talismanic wicket-keeper who can also bat well abd bowl if required (has good bowling figures in domestic competition), and was Zim’s first black captain, taking over after Heath Streak & co went on strike. During his time as captain he built himself quite a reputation, before threats against him led to a falling out with ZC. He’s never been quite as good since he returned, and seems to be more a selection based on name than ability these days. Facing assault charges at home over a run-in with a ZC
administrator, so may well be distracted if he plays.
So there you go. There is some real talent in the side, and if they all play as well as they’re capable of, then the series should be competitive. Only problem is that that doesn’t happen as often as it
should. We’ll just have to see how things go.
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