New Zealand closer to resuming ties with Zimbabwe
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has moved closer to resuming bilateral ties with Zimbabwe after a break of five years by naming an A team to tour the country in October. New Zealand A's tour, however, will be finalised only after an inspection of the safety and security conditions in Zimbabwe. The news is a boost to Zimbabwe after Scotland and MCC cancelled their visits to the country because of UK government advice.
"New Zealand Cricket, in liaison with the New Zealand government, has monitored the situation and we are comfortable with the improved conditions and stability in Zimbabwe," NZC chief, Justin Vaughan, said. "A rejuvenated Zimbabwe have their sights set on Test cricket and the tour will help provide experience and incentive for them to reach their goal, as well as strong competition for the New Zealand A team. The tour will, of course, be subject to our standard full safety and security check before the team departs."
The pre-tour inspection of Zimbabwe will be conducted by Geoff Allott, NZC's general manager, and Heath Mills, the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association's executive manager. The A team's tour will be New Zealand's first contact with Zimbabwe since 2005, when relations were suspended because of health and safety issues within the country. New Zealand A will play a two-day warm-up before three four-day match-ups against a Zimbabwe XI.
Allrounder James Franklin was named captain of the squad, which also includes three spinners - Jeetan Patel, Bhupinder Singh and Nick Beard - and batsman Martin Guptill.
"We are keen for Martin Guptill to regain the form that made him such a force for New Zealand last year and think that the four-day matches in Zimbabwe will give him the best opportunity to do that," Mark Greatbatch, a New Zealand selector, said. "Three spinners have been included in the NZ A team. Young Nick Beard and Bhupinder Singh will benefit from playing along side Jeetan Patel. They deserve their opportunity having both impressed on recent training camps."
New Zealand A: James Franklin (capt), Graeme Aldridge, Brent Arnel, Nick Beard, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Jamie How, Peter Ingram, Tim McIntosh, Chris Martin, Jeetan Patel, Bhupinder Singh, Reece Young.