Streak's reign begins

HARARE - New Zimbabwe cricket coach Heath Streak will lead the country for the first time when the hosts take on Sri Lanka in the first Test at Harare Sports Club starting on Saturday.

Streak, a former Zimbabwe Test captain and assistant coach, was appointed earlier this month to take over from Dav Whatmore, who was sacked in June following the side’s disappointing showing at the ICC T20 World Cup in India. 


Despite this being Zimbabwe’s only second Test series inside two years, Streak wants his side to be competitive and is aiming to win the two matches.

Sri Lanka come into this series high on confidence following their recent Test success over powerhouses Australia.

“Preparations have been excellent with Pakistan A games ahead of this Test series. We respect Sri Lanka but our focus will be on what we can do and knowledge of our conditions,” Streak told the Daily News yesterday.

“They (Sri Lanka) like us, have some exciting youngsters but hopefully our senior players can stand up and perform. They are coming off a good home series against Australia. We will be playing with attitude to win not just compete.”

Zimbabwean selectors have trimmed the provisional 20-man squad that were called into camp to prepare for the series by axing five players.

Opener Chamu Chibhabha, wicketkeeper-batsman Richmond Mutumbami, all-rounder Prince Masvaure, seamer Brian Vitori and spin bowler John Nyumbu were all dropped from the squad to face the Asians in the first Test.

This leaves youngsters Tarisai Musakanda and Carl Mumba on the brink of making their Test debuts while seamer Chris Mpofu is poised to end his five-year hiatus from Test cricket.

The 30-year-old quick last played for Zimbabwe in the longer format in 2011 against New Zealand in his home town of Bulawayo and would be keen to make it 10 Test matches since making his debut 11 years ago against Bangladesh in Chittagong.

Convener of selectors Tatenda Taibu explained the decisions to drop the five players.

“Vits (Vitori) has a personal issue to deal with, Prince needs to hit a certain fitness level to be able to achieve all-round selection, Richy has potential but we now want to see that mixed with big scores and with John it’s a tactical decision,” Taibu said.

Meanwhile, the visitors’ coach Graham Ford bemoaned injuries to some of his key players including captain Angelo Mathews, deputy captain Dinesh Chandimal and pace bowlers Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera but said he is looking forward to a good series.

“Obviously, it will be different conditions for us. We were on home soil against Australia and we are  a lot more comfortable at home so this will be a bit of a challenge,” Ford said on arrival on Tuesday.

“We also have a couple of injuries and some new young players in the squad. He (Mathews) is a world class player, one of the best players in the world so obviously it’s a big loss but when you lose a player like that it’s an opportunity for somebody young to step into his shoes.”

Zimbabwe Test Squad: Graeme Cremer (Captain), Tinotenda Mawoyo, Hamilton Masakadza, Carl Mumba, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza Butt, Malcolm Waller, Christopher Mpofu, Regis Chakabva, Donald Tiripano, PJ Moyo, Brian Chari, Taurai Muzarabani, Tarisai Musakanda.

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