AFTER being barred from next year’s ICC T20 World Cup, Zimbabwe’s Chevrons today head to Bangladesh with their focus more on the future than simply winning a couple of matches. It’s the first tour for the Chevrons since the boardroom battles that saw the ICC suspend Zimbabwe from its family of nations.
It is an important tour, given it shows that, finally — after months of boardroom events dominating the narrative, the story has now shifted to what happens on the pitch.
There were fears, at the height of the boardroom impasse, that the Chevrons would miss the T20 international triangular series that also involves Afghanistan.
However, the Sports Commission and Zimbabwe Cricket leaders have found each other and focus has now turned to events on the pitch.
Indeed, while the next major senior global tournament that Zimbabwe can compete in — the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India — is still four years away, the rebuilding exercise has to start now, according to head coach Lalchand Rajput.
“We are now shifting our focus to rebuilding a new team and to do that we must gradually blood in younger players and create a new culture that encourages unity, hard work, professionalism and excellence,” Rajput said. “We will not make wholesale changes, as we definitely still need some of the experienced players to help the new generation find their feet in international cricket.
“It is important that we still field a competitive side — that is why we have a good mix of youth and experience in the team that has been selected for the Bangladesh tour.”
Captain Hamilton Masakadza, who will lead the side for the last time before he retires from all formats of international cricket at the end of this tour, also believes now is the time for Zimbabwe to start rebuilding.
“I was looking forward to the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai next month, but with Zimbabwe barred from taking part in the event, I feel that the time is right for the focus to shift to the next generation,” Masakadza said.
“We have some fantastic talent coming through and, with Zimbabwe’s focus now on the 2023 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup, I believe now is the time for the younger players to rise to the challenge of taking us to the global showpiece.”
The 15-man squad picked for the Bangladesh triangular series includes young players such as Tony Munyonga, Ainsley Ndlovu, Ryan Burl, Tinotenda Mutombodzi and Neville Madziva.
Zimbabwe have also retained the experienced Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Christopher Mpofu for the triangular series.
However, the selectors have opted to leave out Sikandar Raza over pending disciplinary issues raised by the captain.
“It is important that we support our captain, whether it is Masakadza or anyone else, by creating an environment in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other.
“It is for those reasons that we have decided to leave Raza out,” Zimbabwe convener of selectors, Walter Chawaguta, said.
Raza was the outstanding player for the Chevrons in their failed bid to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in Harare and Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe will face Bangladesh in the first T20I at Mirpur next Friday.
Rajput’s charges will be in action again the following day at the same venue, against Afghanistan.
Zimbabwe will then lock horns with the hosts again on September 18, before taking on Afghanistan for the second time two days later — both matches will be played in Chattogram.
The final is scheduled for Mirpur on September 24.
Zimbabwe will then head straight to Singapore for another T20 triangular series.
A younger side, which is more reflective of the new direction that Zimbabwe is taking, has been picked for the Singapore triangular series against the hosts and Nepal.
Sean Williams will captain the youthful side. — Sports Reporter-Zim Cricket.
Zimbabwe squad for Bangladesh triangular series:
Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Regis Chakabva, Richmond Mutumbami, Sean Williams, Neville Madziva, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Tony Munyonga, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Christopher Mpofu, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Ainsley Ndlovu, Timycen Maruma, Ryan Burl.
Zimbabwe squad for Singapore triangular series:
Sean Williams (captain), Regis Chakabva, Brian Chari, Richmond Mutumbami, Neville Madziva, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Tony Munyonga, Daniel Jakiel, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Wellington Masakadza, William Mashinge, Peter Moor, Timycen Maruma, Craig Ervine.