Zim in SA for historic Test

HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket captain Graeme Cremer arrived on Thursday night from a tour of duty in Bangladesh and had little time to rest as he led his charges into the place of the unknown, the historic four-day Test match against South Africa.

The Zimbabwe skipper redeemed himself with three wickets in Comilla Victorians’ 25-run win over Sylhet Sixers in the 42nd match of the BPL at Dhaka — with three wickets for 15 runs in his four overs to end the match as the most successful bowler.

This was after Cremer had made an uninspiring debut together with fellow national teammate Solomon Mire where both had an opportunity to bat and were dismissed for ducks.

The skipper went out for a golden-duck while Mire’s stay on the crease lasted only two balls in Comilla’s 14-run defeat against Khulna Titans in the BPL’s 39th match of the competition.

The Zimbabwean duo’s team was captained by Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal, his teammate and batting partner for the Tigers Imrul Kayes as well as England’s wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler, Shaob Malik of Pakistan and West Indies’ pair of Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo among a host of other stars.

Meanwhile, Sikandar Raza made waves with his all-round display for the Chittagong Vikings and earned himself a place in the BPL top XI with his 45-ball 95 against the Sylhet Sixers and a four-wicket haul from his offspin being the major highlights.

He played in the same team with Zimbabwe U19 captain Liam Roche who also had a faie outing notching 41 runs with the bat in one of his outings on the crease.

Raza played 11 matches, scored 278 runs and a striking rate of 153.59.

The senior men national team left Robert Mugabe International Airport just before noon yesterday heading to Port Elizabeth for the ICC-sanctioned day and night Test match. This will be the first four-day Test match to be played under the stewardship of the international cricket governing body.

“I haven’t been around; I got back home the day before yesterday (Thursday) from Bangladesh where my team Comilla Victorians lost in the semis. It was a good tournament, a different game altogether and it was well organised,” Cremer told the Daily News before boarding the flight to South Africa.

“The tournament is well followed in Bangladesh; it was good to mix with the quality that was in abundance out there with players drawn from all over the international cricket community which was pretty much a good experience for me.”

The legspinner who is also growing in confidence with the bat admitted that it will be a challenge for him and the other players who were playing in the Bangladesh Premier League’s Twenty20 competition to quickly adjust to the longer version.

He, however, was quick to point out that the three day warm-up encounter against the Invitational IX will give them and the rest of the squad an opportunity to play catch-up with the longer version.

“I know the team has been practicing very hard with the technical team, the morale is very high everyone is excited to be part of the historical Test match; everyone is fired up and just waiting for the moment to arrive,” Cremer added.

“It’s a tough challenge for me and the other guys having to adapt to Test mode after playing in the T20 series but we are happy we have the warm-up match and we are all looking forward to that but its nothing major, as a cricketer you have to be good in all the three formats — Test, ODIs and T20 cricket.”

Cremer also provided a warm welcome to youngsters Blessing Muzarabani and Ryan Burl both from Rising Stars who have been included in the squad and are in-line for their Test debuts should they be selected to play.

“They have shown a lot of promise in the First Class domestic league and we are looking forward to see how they will fare in the warm-up match, this is a new territory they’re venturing in and anxiety is expected of them but I’m sure they will be able to go about their business and execute their plan well without much challenges with the help of the senior players and everyone in the team,” he 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.