IT HAS been a while since Zimbabwean cricket fans have so eagerly looked forward to a Test series without much off-field distractions diverting attention.
By Enock Muchinjo
Reconstruction of the game seems to be well and truly underway, and fans in Bulawayo — they love their cricket down there — will be hoping both Tests against the West Indies reach the fifth day.
Zimbabwe’s selectors this week named a 16-man squad for the series, but the return of batting kingpin Brendan Taylor and pace spearhead Kyle Jarvis, who are both certain to play, has generated even more interest in the make-up of the rest of the starting XI to take to the field for the first Test tomorrow.
Jarvis will likely be joined by Chris Mpofu in a two-pronged pace attack.
Success in Test cricket is not assured without two good bowlers operating in tandem.
Jarvis is a potential match-winner at Test level, but he needs another good bowler to be applying pressure at the opposite end, one who is also able to hit good areas and force the batsmen into taking chances.
The selectors, though, could prefer Michael Chinouya. Going with all three is very unlikely, given that Solomon Mire, who should make his Test debut, and Chamu Chibhabha, who could open the batting, are both more than useful pace bowlers.
Also, an extra pace bowler might distinctly shorten the batting line-up for Zimbabwe on a Queens Sports Club track likely to offer a glut of runs.
Another rather positive headache for the selectors is the wicketkeeper role.
Uncapped Nyasha Mayavo will have to wait a little longer for his debut, leaving the contest between PJ Moor and Regis Chakabva.
Moor and Chakabva can both play in the same side, with one earning his place as a batsman, as was the case last July when Zimbabwe so nearly stunned Sri Lanka away.
But with Taylor back and Mire set to make his debut, Moor and Chakabva will be vying for a single place.
Selectors have a big decision to make here.
Chakabva is the better man behind the stumps while Moor’s wicketkeeping has come in for some criticism and quite deservedly so.
But of the two, it is Moor who has the runs to back himself up in more recent Tests.
Possible line-up: 1.Hamilton Masakadza 2.Chamu Chibhabha 3.Solomon Mire 4.Brendan Taylor 5.Craig Ervine 6.Sean Williams 7.Sikandar Raza 8.Regis Chakabva (wkt) 9.Graeme Cremer (capt) 10.Kyle Jarvis 11.Chris Mpofu.