By Eddie Chikamhi
Zimbabwe cricket selectors yesterday said the door is still open for senior players, including former captains Brendan Taylor and Graeme Cremer, who will not be part of the national team for the upcoming T20I triangular featuring Pakistan and Australia starting next week.
Convenor of selectors Walter Chawaguta yesterday announced a 17-member squad for the series with Taylor, Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine the notable absentees.
Sikandar Raza was also conspicuous by his absence on the list but the all-rounder is understood to have excused himself to play in a T20 tournament in Canada before the series was confirmed.
However, the other senior players like Hamilton Masakadza, Kyle Jarvis, Solomon Mire, Tendai Chisoro, Malcom Waller, PJ Moor, Cephas Zhuwao and Blessing Muzarabani have been selected after a five-day training camp.
Former captain Elton Chigumbura, who last featured for the Chevrons in the ODI series against Sri Lanka in November 2016, also made a return.
Chawaguta said a new captain will be announced in due course to replace Cremer who was sacked following Zimbabwe’s World Cup Qualifier debacle.
Chawaguta dispelled fears that the selected senior players will boycott the series.
“We based our selection on the players that are available and by saying available I am saying today we just finished our T20 practice and all these players mentioned, with the exception of Elton Chigumbura who is not feeling well, were available.
“Being a home series, we felt that we have got the liberty to play around with what we have and try and open up the floor as much as possible after what has transpired in the last couple of months.
“So, in order to give a few more players opportunities to be seen, we decided to pick a squad of 17 men.
“Obviously, Australia and Pakistan are completely different teams so, tactically, it means that we have to draw from the resources that we have to take care of the challenges that lie ahead of us,” said Chawaguta.
Zimbabwe are set to get the ball rolling in the series on Sunday when they face Pakistan at the Harare Sports Club.
The series will conclude on July 8 and will be followed by a five-match ODI contest between Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
Chawaguta said the door was still open for the omitted players to be included in the ODIs.
The players failed to turn up for a T20 selection tournament featuring two Zimbabwean select sides and Kenya earlier this month.
They had given the association until yesterday to address their outstanding payments but ZC, who are facing severe financial challenges, have since indicated they needed until the end of July to clear the debts.
“Every single one of those players were contacted and they personally gave me their word that they were not available until their issues were sorted out.
“I don’t think there is any doubt in terms of the quality that we have left out of the squad. They are some players that are good and have proven themselves over time.
“There has been a massive investment in those players so our hope is that they will avail themselves and when they avail themselves the selectors will have to sit down and see where they fit in the bigger scheme of things.
“Our hope is that things resolve themselves and these players avail themselves.
“Currently we have a squad of 22 so we are going to draw our ODI squad from that pool but, you know, things can change. Next week some players might make themselves available so that squad then expands and we still have to take some of those names into consideration,” said Chawaguta.
New coach Lalchand Rajput said he is currently not worried about the players that are not available but will aim to make the best out of the squad at his disposal.
Zimbabwe T20I squad: Cephas Zhuwao, Chamu Chibhabha, Brian Chari, Tarisai Musakanda, Malcom Waller, PJ Moor, Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Christopher Mpofu, Ryan Burl, Solomon Mire, Ryan Murray, Wellington Masakadza, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura.