Zimbabwe have become the last of the 16 countries participating in next month’s ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh to name their 15-player squad for the tournament. They have included leg-spinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi in their party ahead of fellow leg-spinner Tinotenda Mutombodzi, with Timycen Maruma preferred to Chamu Chibhabha as back-up batsman. Chris Mpofu continues to be overlooked, while Charles Coventry made himself unavailable for selection.
Zimbabwe were granted an extension to the timeframe allowed to name their squad by the ICC after a prolonged player strike left them woefully short of match practice and gave the selectors little chance to judge players’ form ahead of the tournament. As it is, they have largely stuck with the tried and tested, with all 12 of the players who took part in their last T20 International series against Pakistan in August included.
Due to the long-running strike over non-payment of match fees and salaries, no recognised cricket had taken place in the country this year until the domestic season resumed last week after the ICC stepped in to help pay the players. Players eligible for selection then took part in an impromptu series of games last week, playing for either a Prosper Utseya XI, Brendan Taylor XI or Hamilton Masakadza XI.
Kamungozi did enough in these matches, with four wickets at a useful economy rate, to be included as the third spinner behind Prosper Utseya and Natsai Mushangwe. He also took one for 28 from 10 overs for his franchise Southern Rocks as they beat Mashonaland Eagles when the Pro50 Championship resumed on Saturday. He has previously played four One-Day Internationals for his country, the last of them in October 2006 against Bangladesh in the ICC Champions Trophy.
Zimbabwe play warm-up games against Hong Kong and Afghanistan in Chittagong on 12th and 14th March ahead of their opening game in the tournament’s preliminary round, a potentially tricky encounter against a much better prepared Ireland side in Sylhet on 17th March. Despite being shorn of some of their best players in recent times due in no small part to the board’s awful financial position, as a Full Member nation, it will be deemed a failure if they fail to qualify for the tournament proper.
Zimbabwe squad: Brendan Taylor (captain), Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingi Masakadza, Natsai Mushangwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Sikandar Raza, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
© Cricket World 2014