Specialist squads could backfire: Butcher

HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket coach Alan Butcher fears traveling with specialist squads could backfire on the upcoming West Indies tour.

The Zimbabwean side returns to international cricket this month with a full series of three ODIs, twoTwenty20 internationals and two Test matches in the Caribbean.  

For the first time in the history of Zimbabwean cricket, the national selectors named two specialist squads, one for the limited-overs and another for the Tests.

The limited-overs specialist players are Craig Ervine, Chamu Chibhabha, Tino Mutombodzi and Natsai Mushangwe while Sean Williams, Timycen Maruma, Raymond Price and Graeme Cremer will replace them for the Tests.

Butcher said while the move will give opportunities to upcoming players, it has also resulted in the axing of key players from the limited-overs squad.

The former England international, in charge of Zimbabwe since 2010, said the country does not have the luxury, due to lack of player depth, to use specialist players.

“Well, I dispute that because if you look around at the squads that we have chosen in the past we picked players with the one-day game in mind because we don’t have many players who are capable of stepping up in various formats as specialists,” Butcher told the Daily News yesterday.

“It certainly gives us an opportunity to assess some of the young and upcoming players while we have also been forced to leave out Ray Price, who has the best record in ODIs and Graeme Cremer, who has played well in this version and if you go away from home without two of the most experienced and most successful one-day bowlers, then it’s gonna make a difference.

“I feel that sometimes the simplest thing to do is to take what we think are the best performing players and what would have been ideal, with what I had in my mind, was probably one or two players swapping places, and certainly not four.”

Bowling coach Heath Streak, however, believes the new setup will help bring positive results to a team so desperate to make an impression in foreign conditions.

Streak reckons the move was probably the missing link when Zimbabwe were comprehensively beaten across all three formats in New Zealand early last year.

"Ja, I think that’s a really good move,” Streak said.  

“Generally, if you look around the world the top sides take specialist players for different forms of the game. I think this is a big plus, probably something that possibly let us down a bit in New Zealand, this will definitely make a difference on how we can perform overall in the West Indies.”

SQUADS

Limited-overs: Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Tino Mawoyo, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Prosper Utseya, Regis Chakabva, Malcolm Waller, Keegan Meth, *Craig Ervine, *Chamu Chibhabha, *Tino Mutombodzi, *Natsai Mushangwe.

Test: Brendan Taylor, Tino Mawoyo, Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Regis Chakabva, Malcolm Waller, Kyle Jarvis, Keegan Meth, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Prosper Utseya, *Sean Williams, *Timycen Maruma, *Raymond Price, *Graeme Cremer.

*Denotes specialist players.

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