'Zim's batting starts to gel'

HARARE - The Zimbabwe batting department has shown signs of improvement in training ahead of next month’s ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, says coach Alan Butcher.

Butcher was particularly delighted with the form of senior batsmen Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, describing their performance in training as “excellent.”

The Zimbabweans, who leave for a three-day training camp in Matabeleland tomorrow, are pooled with South Africa and Sri Lanka in Group C for next month’s showpiece on the subcontinent.

“Those who bowled have bowled some good spells, for instance Brian Vitori looks almost back to his best, Graeme Cremer has bowled well and everyone within that department has bowled well at times,” Butcher told the Daily News yesterday.

“But the most important thing that came out over the last couple of days is that the batting has really improved. The form of Hamilton and Vusi has been excellent. You send the guys to bat and they have been showing good form, which is a good sign that we are getting ready to face the Sri Lankans and South Africa at the World T20.”

Masakadza has never looked back since his batting exploits guided Zimbabwe to glory in the three-team Pran RFL Twenty20 series in June, which also featured South Africa and Bangladesh. Masakadza scored four half-centuries in five games.

During training this week, all-rounder Elton Chigumbura, who has been a pale shadow of himself for quite some time, showed glimpses of how destructive he can be with the bat.

The former captain felt comfortable to free his arms, reaching for a couple of boundaries and sixes before he fell for 48 runs during a practice match on Thursday.  

Batsman Craig Ervine, who is usually a slow starter, making him best-suited to the 50-over and Test games, could be seen moving away from his shy-batting approach.

He went for the big shots, although the timing and shot selection still proved a bit problematic.

Captain Brendan Taylor also enjoyed keeping wicket in training, his new fulltime role following the retirement of first-choice gloveman Tatenda Taibu.

Taylor has been tasked with drawing a programme of action based on his Sri Lankan adventure, where he played for Uthura Rudras in that country’s domestic T20 competition.

Coach Butcher backed Taylor to get over the Sri Lanka debacle, where he strugled for runs.  

“I’m not a panicking type of person, he (Taylor) is a good player and has had a really good year, the way I look at it is that he has made a lot of runs for the team and that’s the big positive for us,” Butcher said.

“He has already come up with a few suggestions as to how we can prepare for the Sri Lankans, we will see how much inside information he has.”

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