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Utseya in injury scare

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NATIONAL cricket team off-spinner Prosper Utseya had an injury scare ahead of the team’s departure for the ICC Cricket World Cup tomorrow after missing yesterday’s practice session at Harare Sports Club.

DANIEL NHAKANISO
SPORTS REPORTER

The 29-year-old spinner sat out the team’s last training session on home soil due to a bruised foot having also missed Mashonaland Eagles’ last Pro50 Championship encounter against Mountaineers on Saturday.

Coach Dav Whatmore, however, expressed confidence that Utseya — Zimbabwe’s main spinner at the World Cup despite the ICC placing restrictions on his bowling — would recover in time for the team’s warm-up matches in New Zealand.

“I’m very happy with the way the preparations have progressed so far. The team spirit is good, everyone is happy and working hard.

We’ve had just one injury scare with Prosper Utseya who was unable to train in the last two-and-a-half days because of a bruised foot, but we’re confident he’ll be okay. He’ll be returning to some form of work rate tomorrow (today). Apart from that, we’ve utilised as much as we can every minute that was available,” Whatmore said.

After recently cancelling their scheduled training camp in Dubai, the team will now head straight to New Zealand where they will play three practice matches against the Northern Districts before their official warm-up matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Whatmore, who oversaw a centre wicket practice session at Harare Sports Club yesterday morning, said he was going to give the players some rest until their arrival in New Zealand.

“We’ve got three practice matches when we arrive in New Zealand, but it’s a long flight to get there so the guys will have to get over some jet lag first. As a precaution, for the next three days the boys are not doing any work,” he said.

The Australian-born coach also welcomed the appointment of Walter Chawaguta and Andy Waller as batting and fielding coaches respectively in addition to Douglas Hondo, who was already the team’s bowling coach.

Whatmore also allowed former national team spinner Ray Price to share his knowledge with the spinners during yesterday’s training session.

“It’s definitely a boost to have those guys. What we are trying to do is to provide a service in our respective specialist areas in the squad. We have covered all the basics in that area and the guys who have come in have a very deep duty of care. The physical effort is very evident and the boys appreciate it very much,” he said.

Zimbabwe, who were drawn in Pool B with South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, play their first pool match against the Proteas on February 15.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports, South Africa received neither a scare nor a wake-up call after their defeat to West Indies in Port Elizabeth on Sunday even though it came little more than two weeks before their World Cup campaign gets underway. With the series already won, AB de Villiers preferred to look at the positives of their performance and not the impact of pressure on an XI without five of their frontline players.

“It’s not a wake-up call,” De Villiers said. “We were wide awake the whole way through there. We weren’t complacent or anything like that.

“After every wicket we were talking about staying humble, keep working hard, running balls down to the boundary. There’s no way it was a wake-up call. It came down to a little bit of pressure at the end there and we lost. It’s a painful affair, but we move on and we will try to finish on a high at Centurion.”

Instead, De Villiers believes South Africa are building a line-up that opposition attacks will fear. “I want bowling line-ups to look at our batting line-up and think we are not going to get through there. We are building up confidence in that middle order.”

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