We are spoiled for choice admits Steve Mangongo
Zimbabwe XI left Harare on Tuesday for two fixtures of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Intercontinental Cup in the Netherlands and Canada.
In the Netherlands, Zimbabwe XI will play the hosts in a one-day match in Amstelveen on Friday and then a four-day match starting on Sunday. They will then leave for Canada to play the hosts in another Intercontinental Cup match, which is scheduled from 2-5 August in Toronto.
Vusimuzi Sibanda is captaining the side and Stephen Mangongo is the coach. Mangongo, who is also the assistant coach for the senior national team, will be assisted on the Zimbabwe XI tour by former Test player Andrew Waller who will also double up as team manager. Another former Zimbabwe international, Heath Streak, is the bowling coach.
"I am definitely one lucky man to be surrounded by this kind of technical staff. Bundu (Waller's nickname) is an astute coach. He has played the game at the highest level and is passionate about the team. Indeed, he is a superman and I am looking forward to working with him on this tour."
"Captain Vusi Sibanda has been around for a while. He has played for the senior team and is a player who knows his cricket. He has been the top runner in the past year in franchise cricket. He has over seven centuries and that in itself is a sign that he has what it takes. The team is well-balanced and we are spoilt for choice," said Mangongo.
Three players from the Zimbabwe squad that went to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year have been drafted into the squad. They are off-spinner Natsai Mushangwe and medium fast bowlers Nathan Waller and Tendai Chatara. Mangongo believes these are the future stars of the game for Zimbabwe.
"It is good for Zimbabwe cricket that we are identifying a young crop that we can nurture. To me, that is a key element for cricket to survive. The youngsters in our current squad are very exciting. Tendai Chatara has shown a glimpse of genuine pace, Nathan Waller has a good physique and all the attributes of a fast bowler and Mushangwe is a brilliant turner of the ball - his domestics statistics speak for themselves," said the Zimbabwe XI coach.
Chamunorwa Chibhabha will be expected to do well as an opener on the tour. He is well-known for his explosive approach in shorter versions of the game and has the run-scoring abilities to gift his team a secure start to an innings. The pairing of Chibhabha with the captain or Stuart Matsikenyeri has potential to set big scores against the lower-ranked teams on this tour.
Charles Coventry, Craig Ervine and Foster Mutizwa will form part of the depth of the middle order and should enjoy some of the flat batting tracks in Amstelveen.
Zimbabwe sits in fourth position in the ICC Intercontinental Cup table with 23 points in the tournament after winning a game and drawing one due to weather interruptions.
"Zimbabwe XI players are supposed to aim for places in the national team. They can only do that through performances that give top players more pressure. In doing so, we create more options and the depth that we need as we approach our return to playing Test cricket," said Heath Streak as the team had its final practice session in Harare.
Bas Zuiderent has been named Netherlands captain for the limited-overs leg of Zimbabwe's visit. He was the vice-captain during the ICC World Cricket League Division 1. Regular skipper Peter Borren was unavailable for selection. Nick Statham will then take up the reins for the Intercontinental Cup game on Sunday.
The team: V. Sibanda (captain), F. Mutizwa, S. Williams, C. Ervine, C. Coventry, C. Chibhabha, R. Chakabva, S. Matsikenyeri, T. Chatara, E. Rainsford, K. Dabengwa, S. Masakadza, N. Mushangwe, N. Waller, T. Maruma, Stephen Mangongo (coach), Andrew Waller (assistant coach/manager), Heath Streak (bowling coach), Travor Wambe (physiotherapist) and Walter Karimanzira (fitness trainer).
Schedule of Zimbabwe XI's matches
|Friday 23 July||v. Netherlands (50-over)|
|Sunday 25 - Wednesday 28 July||v. Netherlands (ICC Intercontinental Cup)|
|Monday 2 - Thursday 5 August||v. Canada (ICC Intercontinental Cup)|
|Saturday 7 August||v. Canada (50-over)|
|Sunday 8 August||v. Canada (50-over)|