New Zealand national cricket team coach Mike Hesson has admitted that the Black Caps don’t have enough information about some of the Zimbabwe players they are likely to face in the forthcoming two-Test series between the two nations in Bulawayo. By Kevin Mapasure
The first match starts on Thursday at Queens Sports Club. Zimbabwe is making its return to longer format of the game after 19 months out.
The country last played Test cricket in November 2014 when they faced Bangladesh in a three match series.
Most of the players that played in that series are still around except for Brendan Taylor who resigned from international cricket.
Hesson is expecting a tough series which will be played in what he described as challenging conditions at Queens.
“We toured Zimbabwe last year for limited overs series and the One Day International series was fiercely fought,” he said. “The last time we played Test cricket in Bulawayo it was well fought, we also expect a tough series in the Test matches this time around.”
He said his team had benefitted from a week-long training camp in Pretoria South Africa where they were exposed to conditions they will encounter here.
But he concedes too that conditions in Bulawayo will pose a challenge for his team.
“Conditions will pose a challenge for taking 20 wickets and Zimbabwe players know their conditions very well. We respect them, we respect every opposition that we face regardless of their ranking. We cannot under estimate Zimbabwe in their own conditions,” he said.
New Zealand have not played Test cricket in the last three months. The Black Caps gaffer believes the three-day warm up match starting today at Harare Sports Club will be invaluable to the players.
“Getting together in a competitive environment will be important for us even though the conditions are different to those in Bulawayo. It will be a worthwhile experience for us,” Hesson said.
While the Black Caps were camped in South Africa, a few of the Zimbabwe players to face New Zealand had a good run in Zim A’s two unofficial Tests against South Africa A.
Batsmen Brian Chari, Tino Mawoyo, Prince Masvaure, Craig Ervine and wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva all played in the two matches where Zimbabwe lost the series 1-0 after a draw in the first Test at Harare Sports Club.
That experience would have helped them shake off some rust after a long period out of action.
Zimbabwe will be without former skipper Elton Chigumbura who is reportedly injured while seamer Tinashe Panyangara also misses out due to a back strain.
Experienced batsman Vusi Sibanda has been left out of the squad but Sean Williams who has just recovered from injury was a last minute addition to what was originally a 15-member squad.