Zim ready for Proteas challenge

HARARE – Zimbabwe cricket coach Heath Streak is happy with the extensive ground covered in training ahead of the team’s Saturday departure for the Historic Four-Day Test match against South Africa scheduled for Boxing Day.

The team had an intense two-week training in both Harare and Bulawayo giving the former national team skipper every reason to believe that they are more than prepared to take on the much fancied Proteas in their backyard.

“The preparations have been good. All the guys were highly-motivated and went about their training with the determination required of every athlete and we are looking forward to the once-off Test series beginning with the three-day warm-up against an Invitation XI,” Streak told the Daily News from Bulawayo yesterday.

South Africa are currently ranked second in the ICC Test rankings with a rating of 111 behind India in first place with a rating of 124 points. England follows in third on 105, New Zealand in fourth, Australia on number five while Sri Lanka and Pakistan sit in sixth and seventh place respectively.

West Indies are number eight, Bangladesh on number nine with 72 points while Zimbabwe are number 10 with a distant 2-point rating.

The locals will get a Test of what they are likely to face in the Test match when they take on a side that includes batting maestro AB De Villiers and Temba Bavuma, speed merchant Dale Steyn and bowling all-rounder Chris Morris.

“It’s good for us to play against such a stronger opposition in the warm up it gives us a realistic yardstick of what to expect in the Test because then we won’t be surprised playing against some of these big names,” Streak added.

The national selectors ringed changes in the squad dropping seasoned campaigners Malcolm Waller and Sean Williams, replacing them with the youthful duo of batsman Ryan Burl and pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani while seamer Tendai Chatara also makes a return to the Test side after missing the home series against West Indies played in Bulawayo in October.

“We gonna play to win, we are not just playing to compete and we hope we not going to embarrass ourselves in this series. Our best approach is to play to the best of our ability,” Streak said.

Zimbabwe Test Squad for South Africa:

Graeme Cremer (Captain), Hamilton Masakadza , Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Regis Chakabva (wicketkeeper), Sikandar Raza Butt, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chisoro, Peter Moor, Solomon Mire, Kyle Jarvis, Christopher Mpofu.