The return of Choppa


EXPLOSIVE middle order batsman Charles “Choppa” Coventry (pictured) is set to bounce back into the Zimbabwe national cricket team after he was included in the squad that will tour Pakistan for the limited-overs series this month.


Zimbabwe Cricket yesterday officially announced that the tour would take place and the team would play two T-20 matches and three one-day internationals (ODIs) with all the matches set for Lahore.

The squad has not yet been announced, but NewsDay Sport has learnt that also joining Coventry among the returnees is seamer Chris Mpofu, who had been cast in the wilderness in the last couple of years. Roy Kaia is also set to tour.

With the departure of Brendan Taylor, Vusi Sibanda might have also benefited and is set to make the trip to Pakistan on May 19.
Zimbabwe will send a 15-member squad to compete in both formats.

It is the return of Coventry, however, that could generate interest with the player having last represented Zimbabwe against Sri Lanka in an ODI match against Sri Lanka.

Coventry, who once held the record of the highest ODI score, 194, achieved against Bangladesh, has been playing his cricket in Dubai all along.

He turned down a national team call-up in 2013 as he concentrated on playing abroad where he could earn a decent living.
Coventry will increase the options in the middle order and will certainly strengthen the T-20 team.

There is no place in the squad, however, for Solomon Mire who toured New Zealand and Australia with the national team during the ICC World Cup. Mire does not have a contract with ZC.

On the other hand, spinner Graeme Cremer, who has returned to the game after a two-year-break ,has been deemed not yet ready for a comeback into the national team, having not played the game for so long.

The squad has been going through its paces with coach Dav Whatmore whom ZC tied down to a four-year contract as first revealed two months ago by our sister paper Zimbabwe Independent Sport.

Seamer Brian Vitori, who was overlooked for the World Cup, earned a recall to the team while wicketkeeper batsman, Richmond Mutumbami is also in the squad.

Prosper Utseya, Hamilton Masakadza, captain Elton Chigumbura, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine are some of the players who played at the World Cup, who have been retained.

All five matches will be played in the eastern city of Lahore after ZC refused to play in Karachi due to security fears.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said ZC had told the International Cricket Council (ICC) it would visit Pakistan between May 19 and June 1.

“I am grateful to my counterpart in ZC, Wilson Manase, for acceding to our request of sending a full side on a tour to Pakistan,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said in a statement on the NDTV website yesterday.

“This would be an auspicious moment for Pakistan cricket and I am positive that it would open doors of international cricket in Pakistan. I am indeed confident that Zimbabwe’s incident-free tour shall be the harbinger of more and more associate and full member nations visiting us in the months and years to come,” he added.

A Zimbabwean security team is expected to inspect security arrangements in Lahore on May 4, the statement said.
Pakistan hopes the series will encourage other international teams to visit Pakistan.

Major sides have avoided the country since militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven visiting players.

Bangladesh have backed out twice after initially agreeing to tour, citing security fears, though Pakistan have managed to host minor teams Afghanistan and Kenya.

Probable Squad:

E Chigumbura, H Masakadza, V Sibanda, C Chibhabha, S Raza, C Ervine, P Utseya, T Mupariwa, T Panyangara, C Coventry, R Mutumbami, C Mpofu, R Kaia, S Williams and B Vitori.
May 22: First Twenty20 international
May 24: Second Twenty20 international
May 26: First one-day
May 29: Second one-day
May 31: Third one-day