Middle-order batsman Sean Williams was made a last-minute inclusion into what was originally a 15-man squad for the two Test cricket series between Zimbabwe and New Zealand. BY Kevin Mapasure
Yesterday, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) announced a 16-man squad, including Williams, but the original squad, leaked to NewsDay Sport on Wednesday which was published in yesterday’s issue had only 15 players excluding the left hander.
It took the intervention of captain Graeme Cremer, who sources said had not been consulted over the squad selection, for Williams to be included in the squad.
The original 15-man squad was selected by convenor Tatenda Taibu, coach Makhaya Ntini and Zim A coach Dougie Hondo.
Williams was visibly unhappy on Wednesday at practice after learning that he had been omitted from the Test squad.
After missing part of the India series last month due to injury, he has recovered to start training with the rest of the squad.
He will be involved in the three-day warm-up match starting this morning at Harare Sports Club together with wicketkeeper/batsman Regis Chakabva, Tino Mawoyo, Sikandar Raza Butt and seam bowler Tendai Chatara, who are all part of the Test series that will be played in Bulawayo.
Williams’ omission was as puzzling as the inclusion of Njabulo Ncube, who has not been playing cricket, but only returned to figure for Zim A in their unofficial two-match Test series against South Africa A.
Williams faces spin better than any other Zimbabwean batsmen and with the series taking place at Queens Sports Club, his omission was a surprise.
Ncube, on the other hand, has been working at a school in South Africa where he is coaching cricket and his return to the national team has been fast-tracked.
New Zealand have no such problems and are raring to go after putting together a strong squad for the series.
They have admitted that conditions in Bulawayo pose a challenge for them, but while they do not underestimate Zimbabwe, they are confident of a positive outcome.
Coach Mike Hesson told a news conference yesterday that they were expecting a competitive series against Zimbabwe even though they did not have information about some of the players in the hosts’ squad.
“We toured Zimbabwe last year for a 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, so we also expect a tough series in the Test matches this time around.”
He said they had benefited a lot from their week-long training camp in Pretoria, South Africa, where they were exposed to conditions they will encounter here.
But he conceded too that conditions in Bulawayo would pose a challenge for his team.
“Taking 20 wickets will be a challenge 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.”
G Cremer, H Masakadza, T Mawoyo, B Chari, C Chibhabha, P Masvaure, C Ervine, P Moore, R Mutumbami, R Chakabva, S Raza Butt, T Muzarabani, T Chatara, N Ncube, D Tiripano, S Williams