Better planning this time around

HARARE - When South Africa A played two four-day matches against Zimbabwe A in the build up to the Test series against New Zealand earlier this year, the selection and rotation of the players leading up to the Test series was quite frankly chaotic, with hardly any of the senior players getting a look in and getting much needed match practice.

Interim coach Makhaya Ntini was determined that some of the younger players should play, and to a certain extent one can fully understand his reasoning.

Many of the senior players have been given countless chances to prove themselves, but have never gone on to fulfil their potential.

So a time comes when you need to get rid of the deadwood and bring in fresh players, but the timing of the selection was poor and it backfired badly in the first Test.

This time round, the selection of the squads for the two four-day games against Pakistan A is as close to perfect as possible.

All the established players got to play in the first match, while the fringe players will get a run in the second match, so before the final squad is named to play Sri Lanka, all of the players would have had a good knock, or would have bowled a few overs.

Zimbabwe still have a titanic struggle for the wicketkeeper position with the old rivals Richmond Mutumbami and Regis Chakabva slogging it out, while PJ Moor will surely make the final 11 after his breath taking 153 against Pakistan A in the first four day-game.

Though it is unlikely that Moor will keep wicket, which means either Mutumbami or Chakabva will wear the gloves, while Moor plays as a specialist batsman.

It is also becoming more obvious that Hamilton Masakadza’s time may be running out, and that Brian Chari, who has put together a string of consistent performances against the Sri Lankan development team, as well as Pakistan A will, or at least should open the batting with Tino Mawoyo.

The initial squads had Masakadza named in the first match, while Chari was pencilled in for the second match, and one hopes that the selectors will stick to their guns so that we have a fair reflection of who should be picked for the Test team, and who should not be picked.

Chamu Chibhabha and Prince Masvaure will be fighting it out for the all-rounder spot, while Elton Chigumbura who will be playing in the second match will be hoping for a three figure score to convince the selectors that he can play the longer version of the game.

The pitch at Queens Sports Club will be flat, so if batsmen do miss out, it would mainly be due to a poor or rush shot.

One can’t help but feel that Tatenda Taibu is already beginning to make the right noises and that at least for now, people are listening to what he has to say.

Readers may recall that like most of us, “Tiba” was very disappointed with Ntini’s choices earlier this year, but, he seems to have rectified the problem, and thankfully all of the players, both senior and fringe would have had decent game time leading up to the test series, which means that it is now entirely up to the players to deliver.

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