Zimbabwe national cricket team opening batsman Tino Mawoyo has been left out of the side that will face South Africa in a one-off Test match starting tomorrow, presenting an opportunity for Mark Vermeulen to prove his worth — a decade after his last outing.
National selectors yesterday named a squad of 15 players from the 25 that were in camp, with former captain prosper Utseya among those excluded.
The technical team is looking forward to giving John Nyumbu his Test debut, hoping his attacking bowling style can yield wickets, which Utseya’s lacked.
Hamilton Masakadza is likely to be promoted to open the batting with Vusi Sibanda. Vermeulen is likely to occupy number three, with Taylor at four.
The final 11 players will be announced today. but a reading from the 15-men squad shows that seamers Tinashe Panyangara and Tendai Chatara are likely to retain their places in the team while Cuthbert Musoko and Donald Tiripano will contest for another slot.
the inclusion of Nyumbu might be interesting, but Vermeulen’s return is already the story of the Test even before it begins.
Can he provide the stability and the runs that Zimbabwe craves for against probably the best attack?
The Proteas will unleash their strongest side. seamers Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are all in the team.
The team’s captain Hashim Amla said there would be no let off.
He said the Proteas will play Zimbabwe like they were playing Australia, adding they were less concerned about the gap the rankings suggest.
Some suggested the gulf between the two nations had widened since the Proteas bowled out Zimbabwe for 54 runs in their last Test match nine years ago, but Amla said his men were not going to treat their hosts differently from other top-ranked teams in the world.
To some, it is not about where the result will go but how big Zimbabwe’s defeat would be, yet the local die-hards forsee the unthinkable.
South Africa is the top-ranked team and Zimbabwe is ranked number nine in the 10-team Test table. However, the hosts are determined to prove their doubters wrong.
Few beyond the country’s borders are giving Zimbabwe a chance to cause an upset to the Proteas as they did against Pakistan last year. The Proteas are enjoying a rich form, fresh from a series win in Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe has not seen Test action since that famous win a year ago, and a lot has changed since then.
Steve Mangongo took over from Andy Waller as the national coach.
He is a demanding coach and has since warned his players not to be complacent. Mangongo has already shown he is determined to turn around the fortunes of Zimbabwe’s cricket team which has been failing to produce positive results consistently.
Mawoyo has been struggling with a groin injury, but even after recovering, he could not walk his way back into the team.
He will go back and work in the Zim A squad that will tour Bangladesh.
Taylor, Sibanda, Masakadza and Chigumbura are the senior members of the squad. they know they cannot afford to fail at this stage, where younger players are knocking on the door.
South Africa will be a tough opponent for Zimbabwe, but if ever they wanted to silence their critics, this is the time.
Squad: B Taylor, H Masakadza, V Sibanda, R Mutumbami, E Chigumbura, M Waller, M Vermeulen, S Williams, T Panyangara, T Chatara, D Tiripano, J Nyumbu, Raza Butt, C Musoko and R Chakabva