ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) selectors have defended their controversial decision to drop the team’s premier batsman Brendan Taylor for the third one-day international (ODI) against South Africa on Thursday at Queens Sports Club.
Taylor had played 79 consecutive ODIs for Zimbabwe, dating back to August 2009, before being omitted from the playing XI for the third ODI which the hosts lost by seven wickets after being bowled out for a measly 165 runs.
The decision was met with widespread criticism on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook with cricket fans and fellow players questioning the credibility of the selection process.
Although Taylor – Zimbabwe’s most consistent batsman in recent years – had struggled in the first two ODIs after scores of six and 14 respectively, many felt the 28-year-old Test skipper had been treated harshly by the selectors.
After all, Taylor had been Zimbabwe’s best performer during the lone Test against South Africa, defying the Proteas attack with a spirited knock of 93 runs in the first innings.
ZC selection convener Givemore Makoni defended their decision to drop Taylor, saying they are ready to drop senior players if their experience does not translate into improved results for the team.
“Brendan Taylor is just like any other player in Zimbabwe and if you have noticed, we are in the process of exposing as many young players as possible to international cricket,” he said.
“Taylor, Hamilton (Masakadza) and Vusi Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura and Sean Williams have played over 150 ODIs amongst themselves and it’s time for them to start winning games for Zimbabwe,” declared Makoni.
“It’s high time they started converting those starts into match-winning scores. Having one good innings in five matches is not good enough. They’re picked not to just do enough to maintain a place in the side, but to win games because they’re the most experienced players in the team,” he said.
“I believe Taylor is a very good player and he’s the man who can win games for us in the future, but just like all players, he’s not guaranteed a place in the side. He’s going to be treated just like any other player; the same applies to all the other senior players.”
The decision to drop Taylor comes after Sibanda; one of Zimbabwe’s most experienced players, has also fallen out of favour with the selectors. Taylor has also been stripped of overall captaincy with him now being the Test skipper only while Chigumbura is the ODIs and T20 captain.
Sibanda was dropped after the first ODI against Afghanistan before returning to the side for the lone Test against South Africa, only to be dropped again for the ODI series.
Zimbabwe are expected to announce their squad for the triangular series featuring South Africa and Australia today with surprises expected in the squad as the selectors continue to come hard on “underperforming” senior players.
The triangular series begins on Monday with Zimbabwe taking on Australia in the first encounter at Harare Sports Club.
Australia, who arrived in the country on Thursday, held a light optional training session at the match venue yesterday, which also claimed its first casualty, with captain Michael Clarke suffering a slight hamstring injury that is likely to force him out of the tri-series tournament opener on Monday.
Clarke did not make it through the team’s warm-up ahead of a low-key training session at Harare Sports Club and immediately returned to the dressing room for treatment, and took no further part in the session.
A spokesman for the team confirmed to cricket.com.au that Clarke will be monitored over the coming days, but it seems unlikely he would be risked for Australia’s opening match of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Vernon Philander and Beuran Hendricks will both miss South Africa’s triangular series with Zimbabwe and Australia through injury.
First-choice seamers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel rejoin the squad after being rested for the three matches against Zimbabwe.