We need clear selection policy

HARARE - Selection is a contentious issue in the cricketing world, a source of intruding debate whenever squads are announced.

It’s an inescapable subject of discussion for us here in Zimbabwe, too, particularly when it’s World Cup time.

Taking a casual look, our World Cup squad announced this week appears a fairly-balanced side, if you want to shy away from debate.

Casting an analytical eye, though, you can’t run away from the fact that the bug that attacks us every four years has reared its ugly head again.

That inconsistency, irrationality and lack of clarity in selection policy – which first manifested when selectors astonishingly decided to go to the World Cup with a young and raw Friday Kasteni in 2007 – at the expense of the more experienced Hamilton Masakadza,  has stubbornly refused to go away.

The major bone of contention, for me, this time around, appears to be the aimless recycling of the same old rot.

Strictly speaking, I fail to see the logic of dropping someone like Vusi Sibanda while at the same time plucking Stuart Matsikenyeri out of retirement and straight away send him to the World Cup.  

Though all the arguments put forward by the selectors may have succeeded in convincing a few people, and Sibanda indeed lacked runs during the horrific tour of Bangladesh to back himself up, similarly it’s hard to see what a 31-year-old Matsikenyeri – who has been tried and tested numerous times before – offers this team both in the short and long term.

Stuart is a good bloke, a true gentleman of the game, and I would be happy to take it on the chin if he proves me wrong.

And the selectors, no doubt, think they have made a bold decision by dropping Sibanda. A much bolder decision would have been to gamble with Sibanda, whose bags of ability we all know, and a player who on a good day can defy form and win the game alone for the team.

I know selectors will be keen to justify themselves, and in the case of Sibanda, who is a specialist opener, Givemore Makoni and company will point out his struggles with slow bowling, therefore implying that if he can’t open the bowling then there is no point in using him as a makeshift middle-order batsman. 

On the flipside, Matsikenyeri is a genuine middle-order batsman who can rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking. It’s not certain whether he can do that for the team at the World Cup.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against form as criteria for selection – Matsikenyeri’s domestic limited-overs scores may seem hard to ignore.

There is also the need to look at the World Cup as a four-year cycle. Does one bad series before a World Cup throw away all the good deeds of four years?

Fine and fair. Sibanda has been terribly out of form and ripe for the guillotine. But what other options are there?

Let’s be honest, over the last decade to say that players like Matsikenyeri and Chamu Chibhabha have looked like rabbits in headlights at times would be an understatement, and they have been given a fair crack of the whip at international cricket in those years. 

Is that suddenly going to change?

I really hope so. Without hope you have nothing.

We can only, at this stage, rally behind the team that has been selected.  C’mon Zim!

Feedback: muchinjoe@dailynews.co.zw.

Comments (1)

At this particular point in time with the team that we have the selected and the not , I would not expect us to win the world cup. To judge Sibanda for bad perfomance aganst bangladesh I think its to harsh, considering the fact that the bowling attack from the asia countries is of top quality. Selection of teams is always subject to debates. Sri-lanka have gambled and are aking their chances with off form bowler Malinga just for his name sack which instill fear to any batesman. Even in England they still to consider if they can take the ill disciplined Kevin peterson with. For a team like ours zim, I would to have more batesman line up. We need to encourage more All rounder players to national team since we either average or below in terms of batesman. I dont worry much about our bowlers for now. Our top five order batesman must score 40 runs each per game at least , Even if we lose it will be still an achievement for us. We need were to start then consistance. Good team zim.

X-MAN IV - 9 January 2015

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