Senior Zimbabwe top order cricket batsman, Hamilton Masakadza is back in the national team fold, following a call-up to the squad ahead of their tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they will face Afghanistan in five one-day internationals (ODIs) and two T20s starting next week.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Also joining Masakadza in the team, which began camp in Harare on Tuesday, is Peter Joseph Moor, who only has two ODI caps, which he earned when Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh last late last year.
There is also room for youngsters Luke Jongwe and Wellington Masakadza, while all-rounder Sean Williams, who is believed to be battling a hamstring strain, is part of the team, although he is not training.
Moor will give Richmond Mutumbami competition for the wicketkeeper’s gloves, while Malcolm Waller, who impressed during the tour of Bangladesh last month, retains his place in the team.
Tinashe Panyangara leads the seam bowling attack again, with Neville Madziva and Taurai Muzarabani pushing for an opportunity to be part of the attack.
But it is the presence of Masakadza, who was dropped during the Pakistan visit to Zimbabwe in October due to poor form, that is most conspicuous, as the team continued to struggle on the international front without him.
Masakadza, who broke onto the international Test cricket scene as a record breaking 17-year-old in 2001, has over the years, struggled for consistency in the shorter version of the game.
He missed out on the 2011 ICC World Cup hosted by India due to poor form and did not enjoy good form at the 2015 World Cup that was played in Australia and New Zealand.
Having toured Pakistan in May, as well as in home tours against India and New Zealand, the selectors finally ran out of patience with the Zimbabwean senior batsman when the team entertained Pakistan at home.
But two half centuries against Bangladesh A in four-day matches in Harare last month, as well as three half centuries on the domestic scene in recent weeks, seem to have convinced the selectors that Masakadza is returning to his batting best.
The Dubai tour is another opportunity for Masakadza to redeem his place in the team for next year’s World T20 finals in India.
Zimbabwe hosted Afghanistan in October for five ODIs and two T20s, with the visitors stunning the hosts 3-2 in ODIs and concluding their tour with a 2-0 T20 victory in Bulawayo.
The national cricket team has particularly struggled against Asian opposition, while it’s well documented inability to play spin balances the scales and sets up a close match up.
The tour is scheduled to begin on December 22 and will precede Zimbabwe’s tour of Bangladesh for two Tests in January.
Elton Chigumbura (cpt), Malcolm Waller, AG Cremer, C Chibhabha, Tinashe Panyangara, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Muzarabani ,Sikander Raza, PJ Moor wk, R Mutumbami wk, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine