ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) selectors yesterday named six uncapped players in the national training squad of 25 players ahead of the lone Test and three one-day internationals against the world’s number-one ranked Test side South Africa.
The Givemore Makoni-led selection committee opted for some new blood in the squad, quite a huge gamble for a side heading into a showdown against the world’s number one Test team.
Luke Jongwe, the 19 year-old promising all-rounder, was named in the side after impressing for the Zimbabwe A side which played against Afghanistan recently.
The other players in the squad yet to be capped for Zimbabwe in all three formats of the game include spinner John Nyumbu, the seam trio of Steve Chimhamhiwa, Taurai Muzarabani and Cuthbert Musoko as well as all-rounder Neville Madziva.
Donald Tiripano, the 26-year-old seamer, earned all his three ODI caps during the series against Afghanistan while Michael Chinouya has also played two ODIs.
After new coach Stephen Mangongo said he was ready to drop senior players if their experience did not translate into improved results for the team, it won’t be a surprise if some of the new faces in the squad make it into the team to play South Africa.
The other notable inclusion was that of 35-year-old top order batsman Mark Vermeulen, who last played international cricket for Zimbabwe in an ODI against South Africa in 2009.
After an impressive domestic season and commendable performances for Zimbabwe A against Afghanistan, Vermeulen looks set to play in the one-off Test showdown against the Proteas at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Opener Tino Mawoyo, who had been a major doubt for the South Africa Test due to a groin injury, was named in the side after featuring for Zimbabwe A against Afghanistan at the weekend.
There was, however, no place in the squad for pace bowler Brian Vitori, who remains out of action because of an ankle injury after being involved in a road accident last month.
With Vitori absent, Tendai Chatara looks set to spearhead the Zimbabwe bowling attack together with Tinashe Panyangara.
Skipper Brendan Taylor looks will take charge of the team in the lone Test match which gets underway on Saturday at Harare Sports Club while Elton Chigumbura assumes the captaincy in the ODIs which get underway at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on August 17.
In a statement yesterday, ZC said the South African side would arrive in the country tomorrow.
“The Proteas will tour Zimbabwe from the 6th of August to the 7th of September, as a busy international period for Zimbabwe cricket continues. South Africa will arrive in Harare just after mid-day on Wednesday, for the tour that begins with a one-off Test match at Harare Sports Club starting on Saturday. The tour will then move to Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo for three one-day international (ODI) matches. These will be on the 17th, 19th and 21st of August.
“After that, Zimbabwe and South Africa will return to the capital city to join Australia for a triangular ODI series at Harare Sports Club.
“The three sides will play each other twice, and the top two teams after that will meet in the final at the same venue on the 6th of September,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe A cricket team will now tour Bangladesh next month after their proposed tour in June was postponed, at the request of the host board.
According to a Bangladesh publication, Dhaka Tribune, Zimbabwe A are now scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on September 10 to play two four-day and three one-day matches against the Bangladesh A team.
Ahead of the senior team’s visit to the country for a full series against the Bangladesh national side in October-November, the second-string Zimbabwean team’s tour of Bangladesh will be vital as far as adapting to the conditions is concerned.
Zimbabwe A are likely to feature several senior players from the national team. The venues for the series between the two second-string sides are yet to be decided although the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium at Fatullah may host the two four-dayers.
Zimbabwe’s 25-man squad: Tino Mawoyo, Vusi Sibanda, Mark Vermeulen, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (Captain), Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, Malcolm Waller, Regis Chakabva, Richmond Mutumbami, John Nyumbu, Natsai M’shangwe, Prosper Utseya, Sikandar Raza, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Steven Chimhamhiwa, Cuthbert Musoko, Luke Jongwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara, Shingi Masakadza, Michael Chinouya, Neville Madziva, Taurai Muzarabani, Lovemore Gumunyu-Manatsa