Tricky assignment for Zim A

HARARE - Touring Bangladesh is never easy at the best of times.

The hot and humid conditions, the worry of contracting one of the many stomach bugs, the unwavering stench of the various human bodily functions, and the low and slow wickets, tailor made for the Bangladeshi spinners, who for years have dictated terms to the Zimbabwean batsmen.

And yet despite all of these setbacks, Bangladesh has something about it that makes you want to go back again, and again.

Whether it's the friendliness of the people, or the fast flowing and at times hair raising traffic you have to encounter when traveling on their roads, it is a country that in its own bizarre way finds a permanent place in your heart.

Cricket lovers descend upon you with an enthusiasm that never seems to dampen, whether their team are on the receiving end, or on a winning streak.

Players and in particular Zimbabwean players have had mixed results when touring Bangladesh.

Sean Williams and former Zimbabwean all-rounder Sean Ervine would choose to forget about their trips to play in tournaments such as the BPL and DPL, while Heath Streak has nothing but happy times when either playing in their T20 competition, or now recently as bowling coach.

Zimbabwe A last sent a team to Bangladesh back in 2005, and the fact that the tour that had to be postponed due to monsoons can now go ahead is a relief.

The selectors clearly put a great deal of thought into picking this squad, in fact; it is probably the best second XI in the country.

Although terribly out of form Vusi Sibanda has always been highly regarded as a captain, and Zimbabwe will be hoping that the stylish right-hander will be able to bat himself back into the form he had back in the 2009-2010 season, when he became the first batsman to score over 1 000 runs in the Logan Cup, which included nine centuries.

Sibanda will more than likely be opening the batting with Tino Mawoyo, and with Mark Vermeulen slotting in at number three, the top three should provide a great deal of experience and solidity.

What the selectors did rather nicely was to not fall into the trap of either selecting too many youngsters, or totally disregarding the older players, but they have also recognised the need to give some of the younger players some much needed exposure.

If there was one criticism or question mark, it would be to question the logic of including some of the younger players with call ups to the A squad after just one shortened season of franchise cricket, due to the player strikes and lack of finances.

These younger players now suddenly find themselves a step away from possibly playing Test cricket after one season of first class cricket, where they were lucky enough to have possibly scored a hundred against weakened franchises, and yet again we may be in danger of wrecking their careers before they even started.

But, then there is the flip side...

Maybe, just maybe we are too scared to take these chances and play the young guns, maybe this is exactly what the senior players need to keep them on their toes...

The plan certainly backfired when the likes of Luke Jongwe and Neville Madziva were thrust into the national team to play South Africa, in fact selecting them before their time was quite ludicrous.

This however, is a different kettle of fish all together, players are going on a relatively long tour with a fair amount of cricket for them to play, and it will give us a reasonable idea as to where we stand with both the senior players and the youngsters.

We don't want to fall into the trap so many of the senior countries have fallen into by selecting the same players over and over again to represent our A squads.

Prime examples of this are three South Africans, Justin Ontong, Jacques Rudolph and the recently retired Neil Mackenzie.

These three unfortunates have been part of the South African first class system since the late 90s, and have played in countless matches for various South African A squads, without reaching their full potential as international cricketers.

I must hasten to add that they were by no means poor cricketers, but they were very highly regarded by those who selected them, but simply couldn't quite make it at the top level, or at least they couldn't make it at the top level by South African standards.

The likes of Vusi Sibanda, Mark Vermeulen and Tino Mawoyo will provide much needed experience and solidity, but you can't help but wonder how much longer we can continue to find excuses for these players.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the think tank of Zimbabwe Cricket are beginning to lose patience with Sibanda in particular, who is undoubtedly the country's most talented batsman and best fielder, but does himself a huge injustice by his below par performances.

But unlike the likes of South Africa, England, Australia and the rest, our pool of players to choose from are very limited, which is why we will probably always see some of the senior players as fringe players, regardless of how they perform.

Some of the younger players, such as Luke Jongwe and Neville Madziva recently had a taste of international cricket, and judging by their performances they found it too hot to handle.

It is also pleasing to see experienced franchise players such as Regis Chakabva, Richmond Mutumbani, who impressed in the one off Test match, Michael Chinouya, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Timycen Maruma, [Who also has a point to prove] and fast bowlers Shingi Masakadza, Tawanda Mupariwa and Taurai Muzarabani back in contention again.

In short, this is the best A squad that Zimbabwe Cricket have at their disposal...

Now it is up to the players to prove themselves.

Comments (2)

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 10 September 2014

Great article Dean, hope they impress, but I think Jongwe did well in the one off test and the tri series.

kitsi - 12 September 2014

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