04 February 2015
Zimbabwe ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Tournament Preview & Guide
Zimbabwe has a balanced squad, and under the guidance of Dav Whatmore, it could be expected to spring a few surprises. How far will it go at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015?
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be Zimbabwe’s ninth appearance in the sport’s premier competition. It peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s and though it has gone down the ladder since, this time around Zimbabwe has a balanced squad, based on experience and punctuated by youth, and Dav Whatmore, the coach, has already spoken highly of its chances of qualifying past the group stages. If the big names in the side can deliver, there is no reason why Zimbabwe cannot upset a few calculations.
History: Since its first appearance at a World Cup in 1983, when it famously got the better of Australia in its tournament opener, Zimbabwe has played in all subsequent editions of the ICC Cricket World Cup. It peaked in the 1999 and 2003 editions, making the Super Six stage each time. In 1999, it beat the likes of India and South Africa on its way past the group stages, while in 2003, it posted totals in excess of 300 against Namibia and Netherlands to progress to the next round.
Pool: Zimbabwe is placed in Pool B alongside India, the defending champion, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and UAE.
Brendan Taylor is still our finest batsman in the middle-order and I also fancy Sean Williams to enjoy the pace and bounce of the Australia wickets.
Captain: Elton Chigumbura
Coach: Dav Whatmore
Preview: Zimbabwe has a habit of punching above its weight. It has been in evidence over previous editions of the ICC Cricket World Cup, and most recently, it did so again against Australia in Harare in August 2014, during a tri-series that also included South Africa. It is a quality that will hold Zimbabwe in good stead in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, where it hopes to reach at least the quarter-finals.
This Zimbabwe outfit is a talented one, with all-rounders like Elton Chigumbura, Sean Williams and Solomon Mire linking the specialist batsmen like Hamilton Masakadza and Brendon Taylor, and bowlers of the calibre of Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara.
There is also a good blend of youth and experience in the side, and Dav Whatmore, the recently-appointed coach, has spoken of there being a real desire in the squad to do well. It is crucial for Zimbabwe to turn commitment into results, and in Whatmore, it has a vastly experienced coach – who led Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996 – to guide it.
Expect Zimbabwe to make some headlines over the next seven weeks with the aim for the African side to get through Pool B and through to the quarter-finals.
Strengths: Zimbabwe has quite a few players on whom it can depend. Masakadza, Taylor and Chigumbura form the crux of its batting, and if they can get going, it can reach a total that Panyangara and Chatara, the pacemen, can defend on pitches that should suit fast bowling. In Williams, the left-arm spinner, and Mire, the medium pacer, Zimbabwe also has two all-rounders of whom a lot is expected, with good reason. It also has a great fielding unit.
Recent form: Zimbabwe didn’t play any full One-Day Internationals in the most recent build-up to the big tournament – it played its last ODI against Bangladesh on December 1. Its preparations have revolved around domestic cricket, an ‘A’ tour of Canada, and a team training camp in Dubai.
As far as form is concerned, Zimbabwe hasn’t had the best of times. In its last ten ODIs, it has managed only one win, but that came against Australia in August, a three-wicket victory in Harare led by Chigumbura’s unbeaten half-century. In its tour of Bangladesh thereafter, it lost 5-0 in the ODIs.
Star Player: Brendan Taylor
In Taylor, Zimbabwe has a great mix of experience and quality that will prove vital in the big games. He has a penchant for scoring quickly, but is known for his ability to build an innings. He was one of Zimbabwe’s biggest positives in the tour of Bangladesh, scoring two half-centuries in five matches. In 15 ODIs in 2014, Taylor scored 411 runs, including four half-centuries, and averaged 29.35. His highest score was a 79 against a South African bowling attack comprising Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. It will be imperative for Zimbabwe that he continues in similar form.
One to Watch: Solomon Mire
A medium pacer who is a handy lower-order batsman, Mire proved a big find for Zimbabwe during its tour of Bangladesh. He scored two half-centuries in five matches, and returned 3 for 49 in the penultimate ODI in Dhaka. Mire has also spent time playing grade cricket in Australia, which augurs well for Zimbabwe.
“Those conditions (in Australia and New Zealand) will favour him,” Masakadza said of Mire in Bangladesh. “He has been away playing in Australia, he has only come back now to play with us again so that's another big positive for us. He has had a very good start in his international career, looking forward to him."
- Hamilton Masakadza will be the first international from a Test-playing nation to have waited 14 years since his debut to play in the World Cup.
- Zimbabwe is the fourth international side Dav Whatmore will coach, after Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is also Whatmore’s first non-subcontinental job.
- Brendan Taylor’s favourite shot is the classical front-foot cover drive.
- Chamu Chibhabha’s sister, Julia Chibhabha, is also an international cricketer, having represented Zimbabwe Women.
- Craig Ervine’s father and uncle both played first-class cricket, and brothers, Sean and Ryan, are cricketers as well. Sean has played five Tests and 42 ODIs for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe faces UAE in Nelson on February 19. It will be its second group game, and UAE’s first World Cup match in nearly two decades. If Zimbabwe can register a win against the Associate side, then it can head into the following clash against West Indies with real confidence.
“Our team is well capable of making the Super Eights at this World Cup which is our objective. We can achieve that by winning at least three of our group stage games and that’s exactly what we are going to try and do.” – Dav Whatmore.
“What a relief that he (Hamilton Masakadza) is finally making an appearance in the game’s greatest showpiece. Three tournaments have come and gone since he made his international debut but he missed them all. Too young, too injured and too out-of-form were the reasons in 2003, 2007 and 2011. More than anyone, he deserves this chance.” – Alistair Campbell.
Scott Styris Prediction – Zimbabwe: Group Stage
Zimbabwe are another team more than capable to spring a surprise or two. They have beaten Australia in the last 6-9 months and anyone who can do that can not be taken lightly. I have to confess I don't know a lot about their players but after a few lean years they are also on the improve. Similar to Afghanistan, beating the other minnows and hoping to put everything together on the day is their best opportunity at progressing.
Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Brendan Taylor (wk), Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.
Feb 15: v South Africa, Seddon Park, Hamilton
Feb 19: v United Arab Emirates, Saxton Oval, Nelson
Feb 24: v West Indies, Manuka Oval, Canberra
March 1: v Pakistan, Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane
March 7: v Ireland, Bellerive Oval, Hobart
March 14: v India, Eden Park, Auckland
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