Cremer sneaks into Zim squad

HARARE - Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer was a surprise inclusion in the Zimbabwe cricket 16-man squad to tour Pakistan later this month while Andy “Bundu” Waller was named the substantive batting coach.

Cremer was initially left out of the travelling squad due to the fact he had had little game time since his retirement from international cricket two years ago for a golf career.

The leg-spinner retired at 27 having played 11 Tests, 43 ODIs and nine Twenty20s after making his Test and One Day International debut in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

Batsman Charles Coventry, who is expected to jet into the country today, was also part of the squad announced by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) yesterday.

Uncapped versatile Mountaineers batsman Roy Kaia, who was the leading run scorer in the Pro 50 Championship last season, also earned a place on the flight to the volatile South Asian country next Tuesday.

Forgotten seamer, Chris Mpofu is also in line to play his first match for the national team since 2013 after he was named in the touring squad.

Zimbabwe will be the first Test playing nation to tour Pakistan since the infamous attack on the Sri Lanka team bus that left seven people killed in 2009.

The tour will involve a three One Day Internationals series and two Twenty20s matches.

Alistair Campbell, ZC managing director in charge of cricket affairs, said with team expected to play quite a number of games this year; Cremer would be an integral part of the team.

“We felt he (Cremer) should stick around the team in order for him to get some game time because we have a lot of games lined up this season,” he said.

Campbell was part of the pre-tour delegation that travelled to Pakistan to assess the security situation on the ground together with some security experts.

He said he is still waiting for the report from the security personnel which ZC will take to the Sports and Recreation Commission but he had been impressed with measures the Pakistan Cricket Board had put in place to ensure the Zimbabwe delegation’s safety.

Pakistan heads into this series against Zimbabwe after a gruelling series against the resurgent Bangladesh last month.

The Tigers won the ODi series but Pakistan recovered to win the Test series and Campbell feels Zimbabwe need emulate the former.

“I have been more than impressed with Bangladesh. We’ve been sort of the basement sides in international cricket but they have moved up there and are fighting for that number one spot,” he said.

“They have moved a step higher now and we need to step up our game although we haven’t been playing a lot of games and it’s vital that we get lots of ranking points. The mood in the camp has been very good and the guys are rearing to go.”

Meanwhile, Waller, who was acting in an acting capacity during the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, was endorsed as the substantive batting coach.

Douglas Hondo also retained his post as bowling coach while Walter Chawaguta was the only casualty.

Chawaguta, who was the fielding coach in Australasia, will be replaced by Sean Bell who will double-up as both fitness trainer and fielding coach.

“We endorsed the names that were tabled by the head coach, Dav Whatmore and that is the substantive technical department, it’s not just for the Pakistan tour,” said Campbell.

Zimbabwe Squad to Pakistan 2015: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Roy Kaia, Hamilton Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Richmond Mutumbami, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Sean Williams.

Technical Staff: Dav Whatmore (Head coach), Douglas Hondo (Bowling coach), Andrew Waller (Batting coach), Stanley Chioza (Team analyst), Sean Bell (Fitness Trainer-Fielding coach), Anesu Mupotaringa (Physiotherapist), Chris Chiketa (Team manager)

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