Utseya eyes World Cup comeback

HARARE - Suspended Zimbabwe off-spinner Prosper Utseya is hoping to compete in next year’s World Cup after completing a rehabilitation programme on his condemned bowling action.

The 29-year-old former skipper was banned from international cricket by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month after he was found guilty on of an illegal bowling action.

Utseya was reported for a suspect bowling action by the umpires during the third One-Day International against South Africa in Bulawayo in August.

Concerns were on his arm ball and fast delivery and in their verdict, ICC concluded that all of Utseya’s deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations.

“I was a bit disturbed to be honest,” Utseya told the Daily News yesterday.

“I have been playing cricket for the past 10 years at international level and it never dawned on me that one day I would be found on the wrong side of the law. It wasn’t something that I did intentionally, but something that I have always done. I’m sure you have seen that over the past 10 years I have been consistent with the same action.”

Utseya, with the support of Zimbabwe Cricket, has enlisted the services of South African consultant, Justin Summons, who worked with Zimbabwe during their spin camp while preparing for the current tour of Bangladesh.

“It it’s a bit of a challenge for me to try and get back into the team, so I’m working really hard to try and fix the action and see if I can get back,” he said.

“I went to South Africa for two weeks. ZC really played a big part in supporting me, I worked with Justin Summons. He’s really putting in a lot of effort and I think I probably bowled close to 40 overs a day, which is quite a lot just to try and see how best I can cope with the new action and obviously trying to improve the muscle memory.

“I feel confident that I have improved on my action especially my arm, but it is still a challenge with the accuracy because this is something that I have only started doing now. But with time and continued hard work, I feel confident that I should be able to get back.”

Utseya is now eyeing a place in Zimbabwe’s World Cup squad, to be played in Australia and New Zealand beginning February.

“I believe I can still make it,” he said. “It’s one of the goals that I have, but I think what’s more important for me now is to go through this process. From a personal point of view, you sit and plan and then you have goals that you want to represent your country, do well and possibly win the World Cup.

“If I work hard on my action and improve, then my hope would be to get cleared by the ICC in time for the World Cup. Hopefully I will do well with the new action and stand a chance of getting picked.”

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