As the national cricket team prepares for the World Cup on the sub-continent next month, it must be hammered in the heads of Allan Butcher’s charges that they are no longer boys but men.
Zimbabwe will take part in the 10th World Cup scheduled for South Asian Test cricket-playing countries namely India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh between February and early April this year.
Many a time critics have pointed out that the current crop of players are still learning but we think otherwise because this team has been together for more than five years save for the returning players who are after all experienced.
The notion that players like Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Christopher Mpofu and Sean Williams are still learning the ropes has tended to have negative effects, especially on the results of the team.
The players need to get out of this mode and believe that they are now men and have the capability to bring the trophy back home.
The players are now experienced enough to face the world’s best and they should aim to be the world’s best.
The major highlight in the composition of the team was without doubt the return of all-rounder Sean Ervine to the national fold after a seven-year absence.
While it’s always not easy to adjust to the demands of international cricket, Ervine’s experience means he will quickly adjust to the task ahead of the global showpiece.
The exclusion of misfiring openers Hamilton Masakadza and Chamunorwa Chibhabha also raised some eyebrows as Zimbabwe were left with no other recognised opening batsmen except Brendan Taylor.
In the absence of a second recognised opening batsman, the chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell hinted that they could promote Greg Lamb, Regis Chakabva or even power-hitting batsman Charles Coventry to the position.
While Masakadza and Chibhabha were axed because of their loss of form, the selectors should have also considered skipper Elton Chigumbura’s inclusion on merit.
The once trailblazing all-rounder is now a pale shadow of his former self and definitely owed his inclusion to the fact that he is the current captain.
Away from the possible experiments in the top order, it’s the middle order where the selectors will be spoilt for choice but they will have to step up and make sure they solve Zimbabwe’s Achilles heel of losing successive wickets under pressure.
In Craig Ervine, Williams and Taibu, coach Butcher has players who can stabilise the innings.
The conditions on the sub-continent favour the spinners and the trio of Prosper Utseya, Raymond Price and leg spinner Graeme Cremer will come in handy.
Mpofu showed a lot of maturity in Bangladesh after receiving a bashing in the preceding South African tour.
He will be ably assisted in that department by Shingirai Masakadza and Edward Rainsford.
Zimbabwe is in Group A with Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Canada and Kenya.
We wish the team all the best and anticipate that they will bring the trophy to Zimbabwe.