Mpofu ruled out of New Zealand tour
Chris Mpofu, the pace bowler, has been ruled out of Zimbabwe's tour of New Zealand with a lower back injury.
He pulled out of the Stanbic Bank T20 series in November and has failed to recover in time for the trip which begins on January 17. Mpofu was initially named in Zimbabwe's 20-man training squad for a two-week camp in Harare ahead of the tour.
"Unfortunately Chris's lower back pain has recurred on the eve of the start of the camp," said national team physiotherapist Amato Machikicho. "He had an MRI scan and an opinion from a specialist sports physician. As a result Chris will no longer be a part of the camp and will miss the tour."
The national selectors have called up right-arm bowler Tendai Chatara of Mountaineers to replace Mpofu in the squad. Four other players also return including left-arm bowler Brian Vitori who missed the home series against New Zealand with a shin injury. Fellow bowler Shingi Masakadza is included having not played since the World Cup, legspinner Graeme Cremer has had a long absence with a serious knee injury but is now fit again and Stuart Matsikenyeri also makes a comeback.
Batsman Vusi Sibanda has also been named after a stint playing grade cricket in Australia. Captain Brendan Taylor will not be at the training camp because he is currently playing for Wellington in the HRV T20.
Head coach Alan Butcher is hoping his side can build on their performances against New Zealand in their recent home series. They lost the only Test match after losing the three-match ODI series 2-1. "I hope our performance in the last Test will give us the belief that we can beat New Zealand," said Butcher. "We will be underdogs, yes, but we will not be inferior to our opponents.
"Not having Chris Mpofu is quite a blow - he has been consistent in the last couple of months," he added. "We have [Brian] Vitori back and look to compete at a level footing so are not a depleted side at all."
Squad Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Forster Mutizwa, Njabulo Ncube, Raymond Price, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.