A ZIMBABWE provisional national team was announced last week ahead of the new season starting in August. Zimbabwe face New Zealand at home in two Test matches before a triangular one-day inter
national series also involving India.
The Zimbabweans have also proposed to play against the Indians in a two-match Test series on completion of the one-day triangular series. This will be a good opportunity for Zimbabwe to see how they fare against some of the best in the business, ahead of more cricket tours to New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa next year.
The two Test matches with New Zealand in August come at a time when Zimbabwe need to start winning again after an indifferent just-ended season. The cricketers who played last season should have learnt how to win by now, and must be psyched-up and ready to prove a point.
The experienced players have also returned, and it is hoped that their comeback takes the team beyond the usual competitive point to the winning zone. Former captain Heath Streak helped lead the team from the front in South Africa in his first match after coming back, and will carry the heaviest load in the 2005-06 season.
It is nice to see that captain Tatenda Taibu continues to be his usual motivating and commanding self to play a crucial leading role in the team. Being the true leader that he is, he has taken the return of Streak in his stride.
The team desperately needed depth, and players like Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Wishart should provide it. They are the other capable match-winners in the team.
New Zealand are a good side and many will fancy them to take the series, but Zimbabwe have not done badly in previous series against the Kiwis.
Zimbabwe won the last Test series between the two countries in September 2000 in Bulawayo when then skipper Alistair Campbell just missed a century by a single run in propelling Zimbabwe to a 2-1 series victory.
Zimbabwe enjoy the one-day version of the game, and the triangular series is a chance for the team to win an important triangular series in front of an ever-supportive home crowd.
After the departure of the New Zealanders and Indians, Zimbabwe then gear up for a rotational tour to New Zealand, the West Indies and South Africa later in the year. By the last match down in South Africa, it should be possible to judge if the team has improved.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Kevan Barbour continues to receive recognition from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The Zimbabwe Cricket provincial manager for Manicaland has been named as one of the six members of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires that will stand in the ICC Trophy tournament in Ireland next month.
The high-calibre group of officials includes Tony Hill from New Zealand who was in charge in the Test match between hosts England and Bangladesh at Durham. The other four members of the Emirates International Panel scheduled to stand in Ireland from July 1-13 are Billy Doctrove from West Indies, Hariharan Krishna from India, Asad Rauf from Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s Asoka de Silva, who was formerly a member of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires.
The other six umpires scheduled to have on-field duties are all on the 10-member ICC Associates and Affiliates Panel that was inaugurated in April 2005. They are Roger Dill from Bermuda, Trevor Henry from Ireland, Subash Modi from Kenya, Sarika Prasad from Singapore, Buddhi Pradhan from Nepal and Shahul Hameed from Indonesia.
All six of these officials also officiated in the ICC World Cup Qualifying Series Division Two event in Malaysia in February and their performances at that event helped earn them a place on the panel.
ICC general manager (cricket) David Richardson said it was a good opportunity for the appointed umpires to develop their experience.
“This event is a good opportunity for members of both the Emirates International Panel and the Associates and Affiliates Panel to gain some experience of officiating overseas in conditions that will be unfamiliar to many of them,” said Richardson.
“It will give these umpires an opportunity to demonstrate their ability and stake a claim for further international appointments.”
The umpires will be assessed during the ICC Trophy with the top officials from the early phases selected to stand in the high profile matches towards the tournament’s conclusion on July 13.