NEW Zealand are finally on their way to Zimbabwe after all. The Black Caps arrive in Zimbabwe on Tuesday for a two-match Test series and a one-day triangular series involving
Zimbabwe and India in Harare and Bulawayo.
This week, Zimbabwe intensified preparations when the provisional national team was split to form two sides, the East and West, and played in a three-day match at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy Ground. The two sides meet again at St George’s College starting Monday.
These matches could be good preparations if both sets of players realise their importance. Good performances in the two matches are vital as it is the last round of the trial phase that started with the Logan Cup penultimate games in the 2004/05 season.
Midway through the New Zealand and India tours Zimbabwe Cricket will open a leeway for the Zimbabwe A side to tour Kenya for limited overs and three-day games. The Kenya tour has been slotted in at the end of August, and that means some players who will tour there can be involved in the Test action against the New Zealanders before they join the “A” side for the Kenya trip.
Now, while this is an opportunity to give players first-class experience, selectors will also get an opportunity to adjust teams during the New Zealand Tests, triangular series and the India Tests.
After the first Test, some players who would not have performed well may be sent to Kenya to try to regain their places in time for the next tours. In this case, players can still regain their berths for the India second Test.
Zimbabwe Cricket has already announced that players who do well in Kenya can be flown back to replace others in case of injuries.
Onthe other hand, touring Kenya will be further experience for young players. When the likes of Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Allan Mwayenga and Ian Nicolson finally play for Zimbabwe, they will have had a better foundation and will be better prepared for international cricket.
Age does not really matter — the issue is whether players are ready to face the world’s best. For example a 20-year-old Test debutant could have played first-class cricket for three years since he was 17.
Off Bat and Ball joins in welcoming the national teams of New Zealand and India. We wish the best of luck to all the teams. For now, the covers are off. Gentlemen, play!