As the 2013-14 domestic cricket season crash programme wound up this week with the Pro-50 final between Southern Rocks and Mountaineers, local players will enjoy a three-week rest before preparations for South Africa’s visit commence towards the end of the month.
A host of players have however flocked overseas where they will play club cricket until those required for international duty are summoned in July.
Players who have signed contracts overseas include Test opening batsman Tino Mawoyo, batsmen Chamu Chibhabha, Tymcen Maruma, Regis Chakabva, Sikandar Raza Butt and Tawanda Mupariwa.
Captain Brendan Taylor will keep his sharpness at the Indian Premier League but some players have opted to stay put and rest.
Zimbabwe will host South Africa in a one-off Test match at Harare Sports Club on August 9 -13 before the two nations square off for a One-Day-International series at Queens Sports Club.
That series will be followed by a triangular series involving Australia and all matches will be played in Harare.
Assistant coach Steve Mangongo said they had encouraged players to seek contracts outside to get more experience in different conditions, while bemoaning lack of matches for Zim A.
“We have a number of players that are leaving to go and play overseas which is good, and we have been encouraging them to do so,” said Mangongo.
“While I think the players need rest after the trauma of the World Cup and the domestic season, the development of upcoming players is hampered by the lack of matches for Zim A.
We have been playing the same players in the last five years, and we will continue to play the same people if we do not bridge the gap between junior cricket and the senior national side.”
Mangongo said he was hopful the proposed Zim A tour to Bangladeh would materialise, as it would help in preparations for upcoming internationals.
“We will start fitness programmes end of the month and then start working as a group at the beginning of June. We expect the players travelling overseas to be back at the start of July so that we start intensive preparations for the series.”
Despite the problems that have bedeviled the local game in recent months, which have seen a crash pogramme for the domestic leagues as well as cancellation of international tours, Mangongo is optimistic Zimbabwe can carry momentum from the last test match against Pakistan to the next against South Africa.
There is a 12-month break between the two Tests after Zimbabwe recorded a win against Pakistan at the Harare Sports Club.
“It’s a long period between the two matches, but we have been developing well as a Test team after the debacle in the West Indies. We came back and played well against Bangladesh and then beat Pakistan. We are excited at the prospect of taking on a top Test-playing nation and we see it as an opportunity to show that we can play at that level and continue developing.”
Mangongo said during training camp Zimbabwe will seek to improve on inconsistencies in batting.
“One day we bat well and then the other we crumble easily. We want to correct that; there is very little margin for error at international level, especially when playing top sides like Australia and South Africa.
“We hope to improve our batting in all forms of cricket and that is something we will devote a lot of time to during the training camp.”