ZIMBABWE Cricket have named their 15-man squad for the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January.
Talented top-order batsman Dylon Higgins, who turns out for the Midwest Rhinos franchise, captains the side.
The most experienced members of the squad are vice-captain Peter Moor and spinning all-rounder Tino Mutombodzi, who will be making their second appearance in the Under-19 World Cup after playing in the 2008 tournament in Malaysia.
Mutombodzi, of Mashonaland Eagles, Rhinos batsman Nathan Waller, as well as Manicaland Mountaineers legspinner Natsayi Mushangwe and his pace bowling teammate Tendai Chitara have all enjoyed regular first-class action with their respective franchises this season.
In preparing for the World Cup, Zimbabwe hosted Pakistan Under-19 in October, losing the youth ODI series 5-1 in Harare. They then toured Bangladesh last month with a depleted side and were duly whitewashed 5-0.
The team leaves on January 2 via Cape Town, where they will play warm-up matches against local youth teams. The World Cup will run between January 15 and 30.
Coach Kevin Curran said of the squad: “We have three legspinners and an offspinner. We will probably play two spinners depending on conditions. In the seam department we have six fast bowlers of which three are all-rounders. We’ve got good balance all round. Guys will be pushing for places.”
Zimbabwe are in Group C with hosts New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Canada.
“We need two wins to go into the Super Eight. We should beat Canada easily and try to get another win over Sri Lanka or New Zealand,” said Curran.
The 16-team tournament, which was inaugurated in 1988, showcases the best young players in the world and has served as a launch pad for a number of present and retired international stars.
Dylon Higgins (captain), Peter Moor, Gary Chirimuta, Dean Mazhawidza, Andrew Lindsay, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Nathan Waller, Natsayi Mushangwe, Callum Price, Steve Chimhamhiwa, Richard Muzhange, Simon Mugava, Scott Daly, Mazvita Zambuko, Tendai Chitara.
U-19 World Cup Titbits
- Notable past and present international players who have competed in the ICC Under-19 World Cup: Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, Inzaman-ul-Haq, Chris Cairns, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Graeme Smith, Yuvraj Singh, Mehraib Hossain, Wayne Parnell.
- In 1998, current West Indies captain Chris Gayle was the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 364 runs. Zimbabwean Mluleki Nkala and West Indian Ramnaresh Sarwan were the leading wicket-takers with 16 wickets.
- In the 2002 World Cup, Zimbabwe easily won the plate competition beating Nepal in the final. Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu was named Man of the Tournament for his 250 runs and 12 wickets. He also kept wicket in between bowling stints!
- 13 Zimbabwean players have competed in two Under-19 World Cups: Conan Brewer (2000-2002), Elton Chigumbura (2002-2004), Graeme Cremer (2004-2006), Sean Ervine (2000-2002), Greg Lamb (1998-2000), Alester Maregwede (1998-2000), Stanley Marisa (2002-2004), Hamilton Masakadza (2000-2002), Prince Masvaure (2006-2008), Mluleki Nkala (1998-2000), Tatenda Taibu (2000-2002), Brendan Taylor (2002-2004), Sean Williams (2004-2006).
- 29 Zimbabwe Under-19 World Cup representatives have gone on to play for the senior Zimbabwe team at ODI or Test level.