Zim Under-19 brace for World Cup

25 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Zim Under-19 brace for World Cup Prosper Utseya

The Herald

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team are looking to make the most of the triangular series that precedes their participation at the International Cricket Council Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2022 in the West Indies next month.

The team, which departs for the West Indies tomorrow, is set to play Ireland and USA in practice games.

The Zimbabwe Under-19 technical team was greatly worried that they leave for the tournament without exposure to international cricket after their tours in the last two years were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coach Prosper Utseya told The Saturday Herald that the squad they have assembled was a product of a difficult two-year journey.

The team, which is led by 17-year-old Emmanuel Bawa, is a raw outfit with little experience in international cricket.

“It’s been a difficult two-year journey,” said Utseya.

“We started our selection last year in December with 69 children. We have trimmed that number down to 15 players who will be travelling to the West indies on Sunday (tomorrow).

“It’s been difficult because there was no schools cricket taking place because of the pandemic. We also could have had opportunities for international cricket but it was not possible because of the pandemic.

“So there was no exposure to international cricket for these boys and it’s kind of difficult to gauge where we stand against other nations.

“We have managed to organize some local practice games and hopefully the boys will be able to build on that. But it’s always not similar to playing international games.

“So, to be honest, we don’t know exactly what to expect. But this is a team with potential. They are capable of surprising some big teams if we can get our act together.

“We are happy we will play in a triangular series against USA and Ireland and I think this is important practice for us,” said Utseya.

Zimbabwe qualified by virtue of their top 11 finish in the 2020 edition. They are in Group C along with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.

Bawa is the only survivor from the previous World Cup in 2020. Matthew Welch was a non-travelling reserve in that squad and will have his first feel of the tournament in the Caribbean.

Zimbabwe will kick off their campaign against Afghanistan on January 16. They will then take on Pakistan four days later, and round off their group matches against Papua New Guinea on January 22.

The Zimbabweans finished 11th in the last two editions of the tournament in 2018 and 2020 and they are aiming to qualify to the Super League for the first time.

The top two teams in the group qualify for the Super League stages while the bottom two drop to contest in the Plate.

Sixteen teams are taking part at the tournament.

Reigning champions Bangladesh, England, Canada and the United Arab Emirates are in Group A. India, Ireland, South Africa and Uganda make up Group B while Group D has Scotland, Australia, Sri Lanka and hosts West Indies.

ICC Head of Events, Chris Tetley said: “The ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup showcases the future stars of our game, with many top-class cricketers around the world having featured at this event.”

 Zimbabwe squad:

Emmanuel Bawa (captain), Brian Bennett (vice-captain), David Bennett, Victor Chirwa, Mgcini Dube, Alex Falao, Tendekai Mataranyika, Tashinga Makoni, Connor Mitchell, Steven Saul, Matthew Schonken, Panashe Taruvinga, Matthew Welch, Rogan Wolhuter, Ngenyasha Zvinoera

Non-travelling reserves: Aisha Chibanda, Tanaka Zvaita, Luyanda Mtomba, Tadiwanashe Mwale, Declan Rugg.

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