Zimbabwe have announced their squads for the tour of the West Indies which begins in February. The main news is that veteran left-arm spinner Ray Price has been dropped from the limited-overs squads, while left-arm paceman Brian Vitori has been dropped for all three forms of the game. All-rounder Elton Chigumbura has also lost his place and did not even make the 24-man preliminary squad.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer has retained his place in the Test squad, but was overlooked for the limited-overs squads in favour of uncapped Mashonaland Eagles all-rounder Tino Mutombodzi and Mountaineers leg-spinner Natsai Mushangwe. Mushangwe is the leading wicket-taker in terms of spin bowlers in this season’s Logan Cup, with 20 at 21.95 apiece. Mutombodzi has taken 11, as well as scoring 200 runs including a century.
The pace-bowling attack is again led by Chris Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis, who is currently playing for Central Districts in New Zealand where he has had mixed results, with Keegan Meth and Tendai Chatara - a star performer on the domestic circuit over the past couple of seasons - preferred to Ed Rainsford and Tinashe Panyangara, both of whom have featured prominently in this season’s Logan Cup and were named in the preliminary squad.
Regis Chakabva has seen off Forster Mutizwa, Charles Coventry and emerging Southern Rocks wicket-keeper Richmond Mutmbami and is the sole gloveman named in either squad. The last time that Zimbabwe played Test cricket, Tatenda Taibu was their first choice wicket-keeper, but he has since retired in order to become a minister in the Church.
Of the batsmen, Sean Williams marks his return to the international arena with a berth in the Test squad, while Mountaineers middle-order batsman Timycen Maruma, previously renowned more for his leg-spin bowling, has been rewarded for a solid domestic season and also finds a place in the Test squad. Chamu Chibhabha, an opening batsman who also bowls useful medium-pace, is selected solely in the limited-overs squad, as is Craig Ervine.
The squads will be the last selected by the current selection committee, which consists of coach Alan Butcher, who will stand down following the tour of the West Indies, former Test player Wayne James and convenor Givemore Makoni. Apart from Butcher’s departure, this is because the country’s Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) led by Sports Minister David Coltart issued a directive - to be implemented by 1st February - stating that selectors in all sports in Zimbabwe must have played internationally.
Makoni, a key figure in Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), hasn’t, leading to a fall-out between the board and the sports minister. The argument from ZC is effectively that because of the alleged discrimination against black players during the pre-rebel era that allegedly prevented some of them from playing international cricket, this directive will again discriminate against black Zimbabweans. The minister, in turn, refutes this and argues that there are plenty of black Zimbabweans who are eligible for the post.
The directive has since been relaxed, meaning that only a percentage of selectors now need have played cricket at the highest level, but it has, nevertheless, again opened up the issue of race - one which is ever present in Zimbabwean cricket and one which is scarcely needed ahead of a tricky tour to the Caribbean.
Test squad: Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
Limited-overs squad: Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu, Natsai Mushangwe, Tino Mutombodzi, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller.
© Cricket World 2013
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