HomeBusiness DigestWill the Real Zim Team Please Stand up?

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TO achieve something worthwhile, an organisation or individual must be able to keep focused to see it through to the end.

But sometimes on the road to the intended destination, timeframes get tight, patience wears thin and desperation sets in. Worse still, sometimes you are not even sure if the route being taken to get to the end is the right one.

I’m talking here about the new lease of life in Zimbabwe cricket. That route is the rejuvenated domestic cricket structures, and the destination is the national team. That’s the ultimate.

Could we be witnessing the revival of the Zimbabwe cricket team?

Events on the ground, especially developments of the past days suggest so, but a few planks need to be examined.

This week Zimbabwe Cricket named a provisional 30-man squad for the end-of-month tour of the West Indies. The squad includes old favourites Andy Blignaut, Doug Marillier and Murray Goodwin.

In the same week, it was announced that star all-rounder Sean Ervine, one of the greatest loses of the “rebel” mess, had signed for Southern Rocks, joining his equally gifted young brother Craig at the Masvingo-based franchise.

The Hampshire star made his debut in the ongoing Logan Cup match between the Rocks and Midwest Rhinos which started Wednesday at Masvingo. It’s not yet clear what the 27-year-old Ervine’s long-term commitment to Zimbabwe is after his widely publicised intention to qualify for England or Ireland.

That being the case, this is one player Zimbabwe Cricket mustn’t let go again. Ervine’s virtuosity will be a massive addition to both Zimbabwe’s batting and bowling departments, an all-rounder of genuine international class capable of winning a game with bat or bowl.

While Ervine will well be the biggest catch of the returnees, he has not been named in the provisional squad as has Blignaut and Marillier, two firm favourites of mine.

Blignaut has been in the nets with Matabeleland, but Marillier has pretty much been inactive. These two have nothing to prove to anyone. Fitness allowing, both will definitely be welcome additions to a team in dire need of big-hearted, daring cricketers who give little respect to opposition, regardless of who they are.

One possible returnee I’m not excited about is Murray Goodwin. At 37 he cannot be in the frame as a player, but the main question is his loyalty.

While one would sympathise to an extent with the “rebels” and the politics leading to their exit in 2004, the same cannot be said of Goodwin.

Perhaps the reason is that he left the country when he was too young to have any sort of attachment to the country of his birth.

His record in three years reads something like: returned to Zimbabwe in 1998 looking for some international cricket, played in the 1999 World Cup, packed his bags in 2000 and jumped on the next flight to Australia, where he was raised.

All the same, the makeup of the Zimbabwe team for the West Indies tour will generate great interest and debate. Of those that have already come back, Mashonaland Eagles’ Greg Lamb should be a certainty. All the experience gained playing county cricket for Hampshire has manifested greatly.

Soon, other obvious talents like Craig Ervine will be knocking hard on the selectors’ door.

Then waiting in the wings, you also have youngsters like the spinners Tymcen Maruma and John Nyumbu, batsmen like Bonaparte Mujuru and Regis Chakabva, all whose domestic performances will increasingly become too good to ignore.

I’ve looked beyond the dark cloud of the last six years and seen a serious national team that will not be a target for ridicule again.


Enock Muchinjo

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