NatWest Series launches cricket into the new age
Big task - big chance
Photo © CricInfo
Zimbabwe's opening bowlers may miss opening match
Zimbabwe, who have suffered already at the hands of the West Indian batsmen at Arundel earlier this summer, go into their opening NatWest Series limited-overs against these same opponents at Bristol tomorrow with the prospect of losing some of their key bowlers to injury.
The loss of the new-ball partnership of Heath Streak and Henry Olonga - and shoulder injury to third quick bowler Pommie Mbangwa - is hardly the best preparation to meet a West Indies side intent on putting the record right after their dismissal for a record low score against England at Lord's just under a week ago.
Streak has been ruled out after injuring his shoulder in fielding practice, and Olonga has been scarcely fit this summer (missing the two Test Matches against England while he went home to Zimbabwe for treatment). Captain Andy Flower admitted that it was a big blow to his die but that the other players now had a chance to rise to the occasion - besides, his team have had more opportunity of limited-overs play while England and West Indies have been battling it out in Test Matches. There was the added incentive to succeed as West Indies were the only side Zimbabwe had not beaten in the limited-overs code. The absence of Curtly Ambrose, who had bowled particularly well against Zimbabwe in the Caribbean a few months ago, went some way to making up the balance. Yet it is the memory of Lara's majestic hundred at Lara, and the batting of his colleagues, which is perhaps upper-most in their memories.
Mluleki Nkala and left-arm Bryan Strang could well end up opening the bowling in the first floodlit international match to be played in England. Mbanga is expected to be there, too, in spite of his injury. They face a formidable task as West Indies have whipped Zimbabwe in each of their previous eight limited-overs meetings, and by sound margins.
Jimmy Adams seems some consolation in going so quickly into the limited-overs tournament as his team does not have time to brood on the Test Match defeat at Lord's. He respects England as an international team of good players. Now the West Indies must adapt to the one-day code, and, he hopes, to go on to win both the NatWest Series and the Test Match rubber. Shivnarine Chanderpaul still needs a fitness check to a ligament injury in his right arm, and Adrian Griffith needed treatment for a painful blow to the knee sustained in practice. Pace bowler Merv Dillon comes in for Ambrose who has returned home to the islands to recharge his batteries. Ricardo Powell, another addition to the team travelling for the Test Matches, may be included.
Black stumps, music, floodlights - but it's still cricket
The ground has got over the drenching which ruined the teams' scheduled abandoned friendly games against New Zealand A, and the Gloucestershire county club expect the outstanding 3,000 seats to be sold before play begins at 2.30 p.m. The ground made a good recovery today, and the teams could use it for their final work-outs.
There area number of other innovations besides the floodlights: black stumps and bails will be used in England for the first time and music will be incorporated in the overall appearance - "One Vision" by Queen is the home country's theme tune, "Impi" by Johnny Clegg is Zimbabwe's choice, and David Rudder's "Rally round the West Indies" already has the status akin to a regional anthem.
Teams (from): West Indies: J Adams (capt), A Griffith, C Gayle, W Hinds, B Lara, S Chanderpaul, R Sarwan, R Jacobs (wk), R Powell, F Rose, R King, N McLean, M Dillon, C Walsh.
Zimbabwe: A Flower (capt, wk), G Flower, N Johnson, C Wishart, M Goodwin, A Campbell, S Carlisle, G Whitall, D Viljoen, M Nkala, P Strang, B Strang, M Mbangwa.
Umpires: P Willey and J Lloyds. Third umpire: A Jones