All eyes on Zimbabwe’s youngsters

By Enock Muchinjo

ZIMBABWE’S youthful cricket outfit venture into their first real mission to prove their mettle when they go to the ICC Champions Trophy in England next week.



face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The inexperienced side, who struggled in the recent first-class tours by the Indian and South African A sides, would require a lot of character to put the heavy defeats behind them.


Zimbabwe’s participation in England and in a limited-overs series in Pakistan afterwards will attract a lot of attention as the world cricket fraternity will be assessing the team’s readiness to resume Test cricket in January.


At the ICC Champions Trophy, Zimbabwe will play against in-form England and bogey side Sri Lanka, who have twice bowled out the locals for record lowest one-day international scores.


The International Cricket Council, currently probing the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) over racism allegations by dissenting former senior white players, will be under pressure to expel the Tatenda Taibu-captained side from the Test elite if they fail to put up convincing performances during the two overseas tours.


Zimbabwe’s Test matches were suspended until January after the ZCU failed to field a competitive squad following the dismissal of the dissenting senior players. New Zimbabwe coach Phil Simmons, himself also inexperienced, will be banking on his more seasoned campaigners in the team like Taibu, all-rounder Mluleki Nkala, batsman Mark Vermeulen and Dion Ebrahim to provide some sort of stability.


Simmons, the former West Indies all-rounder who came to Zimbabwe to take up a job as head coach of the CFX Academy, was thrown into the hot seat to replace Australian Geoff Marsh. The highly respected Marsh announced his unwillingness to continue coaching the team earlier this year when the ZCU row with the rebel players had just started.


“It has been a hard job getting the players in tune,” Simmons said recently.