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ZIM CRICKET TURNS TO YOUTH

THE recent failure by the national cricket team to progress to the Super 10 stage at the ongoing World T20 competition has prompted Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to turn to youth as they seek to gradually rebuild in preparation for the 2019 World Cup to be hosted by in England and Wales. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

ZC board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani hinted last week that while they were happy with the technical department headed by Dav Whatmore, there might be a need to look elsewhere in terms of playing personnel.

ZC selectors met in the capital yesterday to deliberate on the national Under-23 side which is expected to play against ICC associate member nation Singapore in three one-day games to be played in the capital on April 13, 15 and 17 respectively.

Selection convener Kenyon Ziehl told NewsDay Sport that the squad which will be released by ZC in due course, would comprise mostly of former Under-19 players from the recent World Cups held in Australia and Bangladesh.

“We met as the selectors to deliberate on the Under-23 side which will play against Singapore in three ODIs next month. We have come up with a training squad which will be released by ZC in due course. It comprises of players who were in the Under-19 squad which did so well at the World Cup in Bangladesh as well as the previous Under-19 World Cup.”

Talent drain is one of the problems that have bedevilled Zimbabwean cricket in recent years with players such as Gary Ballance going on to play for other nations after representing the country at Under-19 level.

The Mid West Rhinos franchise administrator, however, said he was hopeful that the recent efforts by ZC would encourage their former Under-19 players to remain in the system.

“We feel it is the best opportunity to give the up-and-coming players an opportunity to show what they are made of ahead of the upcoming international matches. Hopefully, these steps taken by Zimbabwe Cricket will give confidence to the younger players as we look to build a solid player base for the future,” he said.

Ziehl also revealed that there were plans to send a Zimbabwe ‘A’ side for a tour of Sri Lanka, where they are scheduled to play three four-day matches and three one-day games from April 26 to May 29 before the visit by India in June.

India are expected to tour Zimbabwe for five ODIs and two T20s while ZC has said they have tours lined up against India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh this year.

Zimbabwe will no longer enjoy the comfort of automatic qualification for the next edition of the 50-over World Cup following the ICC’s decision to reduce the number of participating teams from 14 to 12 teams.

However, with Zimbabwe on a gradual freefall on the ICC rankings, there are genuine fears about the team failing to qualify for the 2019 ICC World Cup, a development which could have serious financial repercussions for ZC.

Hosts England and the seven best-ranked sides in the ICC ODIs rankings by September 30 will earn automatic qualification to the World Cup.

The bottom four sides in the rankings-based qualification system for the World Cup join Associate sides in a World Cup qualifier that will be staged in Bangladesh in 2018 to determine the final two teams in the line-up

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