Former Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell has criticised the selection of Prosper Utseya in the squad that will tour New Zealand and Australia for the ICC Cricket World Cup starting next month.
Campbell is expected to take up a new post in Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) structures as managing director for cricket affairs.
He is one of the ICC Cricket World Cup columnists and proffered a review of the Zimbabwe squad for cricket’s biggest tournament.
While he generally expressed satisfaction and optimism over the team’s chances to progress all the way to the quarter finals, he questioned Utseya’s role in the team given that he is banned from bowling his off-spin.
“As always, the spin department is well stocked. I’m still a bit baffled by how Prosper Utseya will get on without being allowed to bowl his off-spinner,” wrote Campbell. “He’ll certainly be the only bowler in the tournament without a ‘stock’ ball. He has been bowling medium-pacers and off-cutters recently so perhaps that is the way he will go.”
Campbell is hopeful, however, that Utseya will find a way to be useful and effective for Zimbabwe with the ball.
The former Zimbabwe convenor of selectors believes Zimbabwe have got a good chance of progressing beyond the Group stage where they are Pooled with Pakistan, West Indies, South Africa, India, Ireland and United Arab Emirates.
An injection of experience both in the technical team and the playing pool could help Zimbabwe’s cause, Campbell feels.
“Dave Whatmore is the most experienced international coach in history, so the players can only benefit from his coaching expertise.”
Campbell expects a tough challenge in matches against Ireland and United Arab Emirates, but is confident Zimbabwe will win both.
“We couldn’t have a tougher assignment than South Africa for our opening game and it will be equally hard to come up with a victory against India, West Indies and Pakistan. Fortunately, you don’t need to have the memory of an elephant to recall our happy, giant-killing days. It was only six months ago that we beat Australia at Harare Sports Club and most of the players who were involved in that game are also in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 squad.”
According to Campbell the batting department is well stocked with a possible opening partnership between Chamu Chibhabha and Sikandar Raza Butt, which he believes can make use of the power play while Hamilton Masakadza can play an anchoring role.
A lot will be expected from Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, two of Zimbabwe’s best batsmen who should thrive in Australian and New Zealand conditions.
“There is no out-and-out fast bowler in the squad although, on his day, Tendai Chatara can get close to 140kmh. He makes a useful new-ball pairing with Tinashe Panyangara whose strength is his accuracy and consistency. They have both been able to tie batsmen down by bowling a fourth stump line in Test cricket but they’ll need to work on a few more variations in 50-over cricket.”
Campbell argues that Zimbabwe’s balance depends on Elton Chigumbura’s bowling whom he thinks should be one of the front line bowlers for the team to strike perfect balance.
Squad: E Chigumbura, B Taylor, H Masakadza, S Williams, T Panyangara, T Chatara, P Utseya, C Chibhabha, S Raza, S Ervine, S Matsikenyeri, T Kamungozi, T Mupariwa, R Chakabva, S Mire.