Zimbabwe national cricket team’s bid for more playing time has suffered a major blow with the withdrawal of Pakistan from their scheduled series at the end of the year.
According to the future tour programme Zimbabwe is fixtured to tour Bangladesh and Pakistan before the end of the year, but Pakistan is not committing to hosting Zimbabwe over suspected financial challenges.
Zimbabwe last Test series was against the same opponents when Andy Waller’s men pulled off a stunning result by beating the Asian giants in the second of the two Tests last year.
Waller this week told IndependentSport that they would no longer be touring Pakistan this year and are likely to play three Tests and some limited over matches against Bangladesh in December.
“We are trying our best to give the team more cricket but unfortunately some of the series have had to be rescheduled,” said Waller. “Pakistan will not be able to host us in Dubai as per schedule possibly due to financial challenges. That means we will have a gap again towards the end of the year. But we will play Bangladesh and that has been moved to December when we will play three Tests.”
Zimbabwe will now tour Bangladesh in December, a shift from the original October dates.
This comes on the back of the rescheduling of Zimbabwe A’s tour of Bangladesh which would have preceded the visit by South Africa for a Test match and ODI series before the triangle series involving the two countries and Australia in August.
The shelving of the tour comes as a blow to players trying to push for places in the national side since it would have afforded them an opportunity to make good numbers and stake claims for places in the upcoming national side tours.
Zimbabwe is currently in camp preparing for their home One day International series against Afghanistan next month.
The two nations will square off for a four-match ODI series to be hosted in Bulawayo at the same venue for Zimbabwe’s ODI series with South Africa.
Waller said Zimbabwe would field the strongest possible side against Afghanistan in preparation for more daunting challenges.
The national team has been in camp for the last two weeks and will continue training and playing practice matches with the A side until Afghanistan arrives.
“We are looking at playing our strongest side against Afghanistan; what is important is for the team to play lots of cricket. Our goal is to make sure we play more cricket than we have been doing no matter the opposition. We want to particularly look at the combinations in the bowling department and we may look at a few younger players who have been putting their hands up.”
The team has been through fitness drills and will start ball and bat workouts next week.
Waller acknowledges the tough challenge that Zimbabwe faces considering the team has been inactive for the last 11 months as far as Test cricket is concerned.
“It’s a big challenge; we would have wanted to play more cricket in between the last Test and South Africa, but we are going to work hard and make the best out of the training programme. We are playing two of the best sides in the world and we will aim to compete and if we can win one or two matches in the triangular
series, then that would be a good achievement.”
Squad: Brendan Taylor Hamilton Masakdaza, Vusi Sibanda, Tymcen Maruma, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, prosper Usteya, Natsai Mushangwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara, Brian Vitori, Forster Mutizwa, Joylord Gumbi, Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Neville Gumbi.