Zimbabwe recently gained points, but remain at the bottom of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings. They recently achieved a historic T20I victory over Pakistan. It’s the middle, rather than the longest and shortest format of the international game, though, that needs their focus ahead of the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
Zimbabwe are currently placed 13th in the ICC’s ODI rankings. They’re flanked by Ireland in 12th position and 14th-placed Oman. It’s these rankings and the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier that will ultimately decide whether the African team graduate to the Cricket World Cup proper.
For now, sites such as bet365 – a popular bookmaker for online betting in Australia and other big markets like the UK and India, have Zimbabwe priced at 500/1 to win the 2023 Cricket World Cup. At the same time, Aussies are priced at 4.0 to take the title, while reigning champions England are offered at 3.0.
Regardless, Zimbabwe have slain a few proverbial giants in the past and could be primed to do so again in the future if they can nurture their upcoming talent. Many of these future prospects will be showcased during the upcoming series against South Africa A. Zimbabwe A and the visitors will contest four one-day and two four-day fixtures.
Names like Faraz Akram, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Roy Kaia, Tapiwa Mufudza Richmond Mutumbami, Tanaka Chivanga, Dion Myers, Milton Shumba, Wesley Madhevere, Brighton Chipungu and others will be looking to stake claims for eventual ODI inclusion. Some of these players are being developed in the mould of former all-rounder and national captain Elton Chigumbura.
They will be up against a strong South Africa A squad, which features numerous names with Proteas experience. These include Andile Phehlukwayo, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius and others. South Africa A captain Zubayr Hamza has represented his country at Test match level.
“The goal of the tour is to win all the games and to start gaining credibility next to the SA A team’s name. Over the past few seasons, we’ve had a couple of tough tours,” said Hamza.
“Be that as it may, we can’t underestimate our opponents. We’ll need to focus on our strengths and go from there.
“This tour is an opportunity for most players to do well. Regardless of the opposition, we have to control what we can in our environment with regard to our own performances.
“To be blunt, the goal of this tour is to win all the games – simple as that. We’ve got guys like Reeza, Dwaine, Andile, to name a few, and we can throw Janneman Malan’s name in that hat as well.
“Guys who have played regular international cricket of late and that experience will definitely show on the field.”
Who will captain Zimbabwe A remains in the balance. There are a few candidates, including Burl and Chatara. Head coach Stuart Matsikenyeri and his fellow staff can make that decision soon enough. Whoever it is will be tasked with the challenge of outdoing an opposite number who has captained the Cape Cobras at franchise level.
“To be given the role as the leader of this team is something that I definitely welcome. Captaining the Cape Cobras over the past season, I’ve learned a lot about not just how the game is played but also the differentiation between individual game and leadership,” added Hamza.
“It’s been an exciting challenge for me. Fortunately, the squad is loaded with regular international players that have quite a wealth of experience next to their names and these guys will be able to help out when there’s tough times or tough questions being asked. I’m definitely confident that I’ll be able to perform the role to the best of my ability and I’m confident that the team is filled with leaders in their own right.”