ZIMBABWE Cricket convenor of selectors Walter Chawaguta says the upcoming T20 triangular involving Pakistan and Australia is an opportunity for the national team players to rekindle cricket passion among Zimbabweans still to recover from the World Cup setback.
The Chevrons, who have been inactive since the failure to qualify for the global cricket jamboree to be held in England next year, are set to host the world’s top two T20 nations next month.
The selectors have named a training squad that is currently practicing in a tri-series against Kenya.
“Obviously we are coming from the background of a disappointment in the World Cup Qualifier where the expectations were high and there is a lot to play for in the triangular series.
“We need to reawaken the passion that we had built up in the qualifiers with the crowds behind us.
“We would want to see performances that will inspire and get people excited again about what the team is doing because there was a time where we looked like we were getting somewhere.
“Unfortunately, those two bad performances at the end meant that we missed out on the World Cup. So it’s an opportunity for us to rebuild and rekindle that passion,” said Chawaguta.
Newly-appointed Zimbabwe national cricket team coach Lalchand Rajput has since joined the training squad which is currently hosting Kenya in a T20 series.
The squad has been split in two – Zimbabwe Select and Chairman’s XI.
Both teams yesterday won comfortably against the visitors with Prince Masvaure’s unbeaten (103) the highlight for the day in the second match in which the Chairman’s XI won by six wickets with one ball remaining.
Tarisai Musakanda had also done well with the bat in the earlier match with an unbeaten 75 from 45 deliveries in the Select XI’s 41-run victory.
Talented left-arm spin bowler Rugare Magarira continued with his good form after taking 3/12 while Chris Mpofu had 2/19.
Some of the senior players have missed the practice squad because of a payment dispute with the association.
However, players such as former captain Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams have been attending the matches although they are not taking part.
Chawaguta said the ZC were hoping to have finalised by weekend both the T20 squad for the triangular series and the ODI that will play Pakistan afterwards.
“There will be 10 days between the final and the first T20 match so my assumption is that the coach will obviously take over once we give him the squad and get into camp with the players.
“The good thing is that the coach is here. He is getting accustomed to the conditions, seeing the players in action and he is also trying to work out a plan on who he wants and everything else, obviously, with the assistance of the selectors who are here.
“This practice tournament plays a big role in our preparations, especially for the tri-series, because we really don’t have a background for selection since we haven’t played domestic T20 matches for a while.
“So it gives an opportunity for players to be seen and I believe that in a healthy system there needs to be two distinct squads for the one day and T20 squad.
‘’Some players, obviously, may not make both squads but this is just to give players an opportunity to be seen.
“I must say that things are looking up at the moment. It’s looking good and hopefully we will see a few more players coming through and showing that they have got what it takes to be picked for the tri-series,” said Chawaguta.
Meanwhile, following the ICC’s decision to charge ZC board member and director Enock Ikope with three counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code, chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said it was a welcome development.
‘’We as ZC welcome the action and investigation by the ICC and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that the ICC and ZC have already taken to root out any wrongdoing in cricket.
“While at this stage we presume Ikope is innocent until proven guilty, the allegations he is facing are of a serious nature and we pledge our full support to the ICC process as we would to any effort to rid the game of corruption.
“The integrity of ZC and the game itself is of paramount importance and, therefore, the need to maintain high levels of honesty and professionalism at leadership and all levels of the game cannot be overemphasised. All stakeholders can rest assured we have zero tolerance to corruption and we will continue to work actively to combat criminality in all of its forms.
“Let me take this opportunity to once again warn offenders and would-be offenders that corruption has no place in cricket and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
‘’We will continue to work within our structures and with the ICC in order to root out any misconduct and ensure that cricket locally and globally is free from wrongdoing.”