Zhuwao, Williams in qualifiers squad

HARARE - Mashonaland Eagles big-hitter Cephas Zhuwao and Matebeleland Tuskers all-rounder Sean Williams have joined the Zimbabwe squad for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to begin on March 4 across five venues.

The two players were not named in the initial 15-player squad, but have been included in place of Ryan Burl and Tarisai Musakanda.

Harare will have two match venues Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians hosting some of the games while the second largest will also have two venues, Queens Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club with Midlands’ Kwekwe Sports Club being the fifth cricket ground to be used for these games.

Zimbabwe are desperate to book a place at next year’s World Cup in England with only two slots up for grabs in these qualifiers that also features fading giants West Indies and rising stars Afghanistan and Ireland among other teams.

The locals are in Group B along with Afghanistan, Nepal, Scotland and Hong Kong, and will open their campaign against Nepal at the Queens Sports Club on March 4.

It is the inclusion of Big Bully, Zhuwao as he is known in cricketing circles that will come as a relief to the legion of Zimbabwe cricket fans who were restless after he was initially left out of the squad for the qualifiers despite his explosive heroics with the bat in the victorious home series against Kenya.

The Glen View born cricketer scored 131 runs from just 52 deliveries in a cameo made of 10 boundaries and 13 maximums in the first one-dayer against Kenya at Mutare Sports Club. In the second match, the left-handed opener hit 44 runs in 22 balls and 46 from 24 in the third game as he knocked hard on the selectors’ door for recognition.

Zhuwao, 33 played in his only One Day International a decade ago, when he featured against Ireland in Nairobi in October 2008, scoring 16 off 20 balls with three fours.

Williams, the 31-year-old left-arm spinner and middle-order batsman, last played in an ODI in July 2017 against Sri Lanka in Hambantota. In 111 ODIs since February 2005, Williams has scored 2,947 runs and taken 52 wickets.

Despite Zhuwao’s scintillating performances with the bat up the order he was still neglected by the selectors as he left out of the tour of United Arab Emirates against Afghanistan which ended in a humiliating 4-1 defeat against the team that is also vying for a world cup berth.

With the calls for the axing of non-performing seniors in the mould of Solomon Mire, Malcolm Waller and Peter Moor among others in favour of the in-form Zhuwao growing louder and with the head coach’s mandate being to take the team to the world cup a bit tinkering with the team was made which saw the inclusion of Zhuwao and Williams who was nursing a finger injury.

Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Faisal Hasnain earlier declared that it would be business unusual if the team fails to qualify for the world cup.

“...But if we don’t do well in the U19 World Cup, if we don’t do well in the Cricket Qualifiers- let’s say we don’t qualify surely something would have to happen, what has gone wrong? And certainly it will be very unusual if changes are not made,” Faisal told the Daily News in an earlier interview.

“At the end of the day results do matter and if things don’t work out according to plan then it means people will have to have a good hard look at our entire cricketing setup. It will be a disaster if we don’t qualify for the Cricket World Cup.”

ZIMBABWE SQUAD: Graeme Cremer (captain), Tendai Chatara, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams and Cephas Zhuwao. . Heath Streak (coach)

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