Monday 6 August 2007

Zimbabwe gets ready for triangular series

Itayi Viriri

June 18, 2000

ZIMBABWE's busy England tour continues with the ongoing four-day Vodafone Challenge Series match against Gloucestershire at Gloucester.

The match comes as a perfect warm up for the forthcoming triangular series that will also include England and the West Indies. The Gloucester match comes hard on the heels of Zimbabwe's credible performance against the West Indies in a drawn three-day match, raising hope that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Zimbabwe's performances in the matches they have played after the two Test series against England, have shown vast improvement and Andy Flower and his side lookset to play better cricket in the triangular series.

Murray Goodwin is now in fine form after hitting successive centuries in the second Test and the match against the Windies and all he needs now is partners who will be able to hold the innings together with him and Zimbabwe might come back from the tour with something to show for their three month excursion. He might get that support from the other batsmen also regaining some good form, such as allrounder, Guy Whittall, skipper, Andy Flower and the dependable Neil Johnson.

The Trent Bridge Test also showed that the Zimbabwean selectors should not hesitate to throw young talent in the fray with the performance of Test debutant, Mluleki Nkala. Nkala was named in the one-day squad for the series. The 19-year-old seamer took five wickets in that Test repaying skipper, Andy Flower's faith in throwing him into the starting side. Coach Andy Pycroft, also the convenor of selectors, may be forced to introduce more young players as some of the established players have lost form and in particular, opener Grant Flower, and former captain, Alistair Campbell. Flower's form is now a cause for concern with his series of below par performances with the bat, dating back to late last year. In the second Test, he came up with a duck, in the first innings before scoring 12 in the second. In fact, brother, Andy should consider dropping him further down the order or perhaps giving him time off. Strange enough for Campbell, his performances in warm up matches have been good with the ex-skipper scoring some centuries, only to fizzle out in the Tests.

However, the overall performance of the side has vastly improved with the bowlers complementing the batting performance of Goodwin, Johnson and Andy Flower.

Many local cricket fans will be hoping that this current form continues into July, and only then can Zimbabwe acquit itself well when it faces hosts, England and the West Indies in the series starting on July 6.

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