Williams, Rainsford set for comeback

HARARE - Sean Williams and Ed Rainsford took major steps towards national team comeback while out-of-form all-rounder Elton Chigumbura was dropped from Zimbabwe’s upcoming West Indies tour training squad.

If as expected Williams makes the final touring party, the 26-year-old batsman will be making a return to the team for the first time in two years, having last played for Zimbabwe against Canada at the ICC World Cup on the Indian subcontinent in February 2011.

The talented left-hander from Bulawayo walked out on the team after the World Cup in protest over non-payment of arrears, but has decided to resurrect his international career following a glut of first-class runs for his home province Matabeleland Tuskers.

Williams has amassed 1 146 runs in ODI cricket from 47 games, at an average of 29.38.

Another possible returnee, seamer Rainsford, had dropped way down the pecking order behind a number of pace bowlers since he played his last ODI for Zimbabwe against Ireland back in 2010.

Injuries did not help Rainsford’s cause as he had to be replaced in Zimbabwe’s 2011 World Cup squad by Tinashe Panyangara after hurting his right ankle ligaments in a warm-up match against the Irish days before the main tournament.

Fit again and firing on all cylinders for the Midwest Rhinos franchise, the 28-year-old opening bowler — who has taken 45 wickets at an average of 31.13 at an economy rate of 4.40 from 39 ODIs — is now tipped to be one of Zimbabwe’s frontline bowlers on tour, where he could, just like Williams, earn his first Test cap.

Rainsford’s resurgence increases options for Zimbabwe in a pace bowling department led by spearhead Chris Mpofu and the youthful pair of Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori.

In a recent interview with the Daily News, Zimbabwe’s bowling coach Heath Streak was upbeat about the team’s bowling attack, saying the side has a good mix of pace and spin to unsettle the West Indies in any conditions throughout the two Tests, three ODIs and two Twenty20s.

“I think we have a good crop of quicks and spinners,” Streak said. “We have good options. It depends with the conditions. If the conditions are seam-friendly, we have the arsenal in (Kyle) Jarvis, (Brian) Vitori, Chris Mpofu and (Ed) Rainsford, who is back in form again. If it’s spin-oriented, we got that as well.

“We have upcoming spinners like Tino Mutombodzi, who is in the fold, then a guy like Natsai Mushangwe. We have youngsters who will help your Prices, Utseyas and Cremers.”

There are no major changes in the batting department with skipper Brendan Taylor, vice-captain Hamilton Masakadza as well as openers Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo expected to lead from the front.

The selectors have included four uncapped players in highly-rated Mashonaland Eagles spinner Tino Mutombodzi, Midwest Rhinos pace bowler Michael Chinouya, former Zimbabwe Under-19 quick Cuthbert Musoko and Eagles all-rounder Nathan Waller, cousin of batsman Malcolm Waller.

Of the uncapped quartet, Mutombodzi is firm favourite to make the touring party after getting special mention from bowling coach Streak, who touted him as a handy extra spin option.

Injured leg-spinner Graeme Cremer was selected despite still trying to gain full fitness while there was no place for promising but undecided pace bowler Glenn Querl and his Tuskers teammate Charles Coventry.

Seamers Shingi Masakadza and Richard Muzhange were also left out in the cold.

Meanwhile, acting selectors head Givemore Makoni said Chigumbura lost his place due to a poor run of form, warning that other underachieving players in the 24-man squad will not make the touring party.

“Elton last performed when we went to New Zealand, in the last Twenty20,” Makoni said.

“Domestic-wise, he is also out of form. A number of senior guys in the 24 also have to prove their worth.”

TRAINING SQUAD


Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Mike Chinouya, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu, Natsai Mushangwe, Cuthbert Musoko, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Tinashe Panyangara, Raymond Price, Ed Rainsford, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Nathan Waller, Sean Williams.

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