The Zimbabwe national cricket team captain, Craig Ervine is confident that his relatively inexperienced side can hold their own in their two match Test series against a strong West Indies side which starts at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Club this morning.
Zimbabwe have been ravaged by injuries, with key players Sean Williams, Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara all crocked.
Ryan Burl and Sikandar Raza asked to be excused to participate in T20 leagues in Asia.
Prince Masvaure and Kevin Kasuza, who have been the two opening batters in this format, have suffered a loss of form and are not in the squad.
While Ervine bemoaned the absentees, he is hoping that the new guys in the team can hold their own.
“We are thinking a little with the injuries that we have, but the guys that have come as replacements have played a fair amount of cricket in the Logan Cup leading up to this Test series and this last week of preparations has been excellent, so everyone is looking forward to it. I have had a little niggle for a while, but am managing it pretty well,” the left hand batter said yesterday.
He said the new guys would have to step up from what they are used to in domestic cricket.
“I think it’s a little different level of cricket for the debutants, but this week has been really good. We have intensified preparations up to the level of Test cricket just to get the guys aware of the level they will be playing over the next couple of weeks,” Ervine said.
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“So it’s more of a mental challenge rather than the skills challenge. I think guys have been preparing exceptionally well in the nets just changing things on what guys are used to at franchise level, obviously Test cricket is a step above.”
Zimbabwe will be hoping to attract a large crowd once again to create a carnival atmosphere.
“Hopefully, the weather holds up and we get a good crowd here. It may not be as good a crowd as we get in Harare, but guys enjoy playing here.”
Under coach Dave Houghton, Zimbabwe have played positive cricket and they will look to continue in the same vein even in the Tests.
“The approach from us is to still be positive, obviously they have got a good bowling line-up and they are a really good side, but I think we have to find ways of scoring. We can’t get into out shells other wise the game will not move forward,” Ervine said.
“The same with the bowling we will be looking for wickets, not just try to restrict them. We want to continue that positive brand of cricket that we have been playing in the white cricket, but obviously we want to be a little bit tighter in the red ball format.
“There has been a lot of energy around training, guys have been told what they need to do and everyone has just cracked on a lot of guys are excited to play the two Test, we haven’t had Test cricket for a number of years, it’s a huge privilege to have this kind of opportunity.”
Gary Ballance is expected to make his debut for Zimbabwe, having played Test cricket for England and a lot will be expected of him.
“It’s hugely important to have him in that middle order and he brings a lot of stability and a lot of experience and the younger guys can pick his brain on playing different situations and how to get the best of preparations leading up to these matches. I think his presence is good for us.”