Zimbabwe Cricket has named two 15-man squads, including most of their national players, to feature in a three-team 20-over tournament, including Kenya, as part of the build-up to next month's T20 triangular series. Zimbabwe are due to host Australia and Pakistan but player threats to strike over unpaid salaries have put the matches in doubt, though it now seems ZC is taking action to ensure the games go ahead.
ZC has paid one month's worth of salaries after the cricketers gave the board an ultimatum to pay all outstanding monies by June 25 or face a player boycott. At the time of their demand, players were owed three months of salaries and match fees from last July's tour to Sri Lanka and it remains to be seen if the part-payment is enough to cancel their protest.
Sources have confirmed that players are assembling in Harare over the next two days, and will consult with their lawyer Gerald Mlotchwa, to decide their next steps. The players have engaged the services of a lawyer in a bid to resurrect their player association, which ceased to exist since 2015. At the same time, Zimbabwe's interim coach Lalchand Rajput is also expected to arrive in the country at the weekend and the practice matches have been planned in order to for Rajput to get a first look at the players at his disposal.
Despite ZC sacking all the coaching staff following their failure to qualify for the World Cup, it has re-engaged with some of them. Former national bowling coach Douglas Hondo will coach one of the teams, Zimbabwe Select, in the warm-up T20 matches. The other team, a Board XI, will be coached by Shepherd Makunura, a former A-team coach. Anesu Mupotaringa and Stanley Chioza, who worked as physiotherapist and analyst respectively for the national team, are back in those roles.
The tournament consists of ten matches, two per day, from Monday until June 18. "This is a training squad which will, eventually, be trimmed before the final squad for the T20I series is announced," Walter Chawaguta, convener of national selectors said. "The tournament involving Kenya will effectively allow the new coach an opportunity to get a glimpse of the players in action."
Some players, notably former captain Graeme Cremer, allrounder Sikandar Raza and fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani have not been named in either of the two squads. Raza and Muzarabani are playing at clubs overseas but there was no reason given for Cremer's omission.
Zimbabwe Select: Donald Tiripano, Kevin Kasuza, Brian Chari, Christopher Mpofu, Sean Williams, Ernest Masuku, Tarisai Musakanda, Kyle Jarvis, Brendan Taylor, Ryan Burl, Rugare Magarira, Liam Roche, Tafadzwa Tsiga, Wellington Masakadza, Tendai Chisoro
Board XI: Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Prince Masvaure, Peter Moor, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Ryan Murray, Brandon Mavuta, John Nyumbu, Nyasha Mayavo, Mohammad Faraz Akram, Natsai M'shangwe