Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, only Test, Harare August 1, 2011

Taylor to lead Zimbabwe in comeback Test

24

Brendan Taylor will lead Zimbabwe in the one-off home Test against Bangladesh which marks their return to Test cricket. Only eight of the 13 selected, including Taylor, have played Tests, a format Zimbabwe haven't played in since 2005 when they voluntarily suspended themselves following concerns they were not competitive enough at the top level.

The selection of the Test side thus presented the Zimbabwean selectors with an issue that had surely not been felt quite as acutely in the limited-overs sides that have turned out in the interim: that of balance. In the event, Prosper Utseya and Regis Chakabva are unlikely to play and so the probable starting XI includes five specialist batsmen, with Tatenda Taibu at No. 6 - and, considering his pedigree alongside those in front of him in the order, he must surely also be counted as a frontline batsman - followed by two allrounders, a spinner, and two new-ball seamers.

Taibu - who had been out of action after the World Cup 2011 with a thumb injury - was included after he kept wicket in the three-day tour game against the Bangladeshis. Chakabva is his understudy, which means that yet again there is no place for Forster Mutizwa, whose unbeaten 87 led Zimbabwe XI to victory over the Bangladeshis. Mutizwa also cracked a fluent 67 in the two-day match against Australia at Kwekwe, and his boundary-hitting ability means he may well come back into contention for national honours in the one-day leg of the series.

Brian Vitori, the 21-year old left-arm seamer, was the only player without international experience to make the squad. His elevation to the Test squad is the culmination of a meteoric rise for the Masvingo-born Vitori, who made his domestic debut during the pitiable Faithwear one-day competition in 2005-06 and, until the end of last season, had remained under the radar.

While it's virtually assured that the much-improved Chris Mpofu will take the new ball, it's not entirely clear whether Vitori or Keegan Meth will partner him. Meth does share new-ball duties with Mpofu in domestic cricket with the Matabeleland Tuskers, and the added control he brings with him may sway the odds in his favour.

The return to Tests also means Zimbabwe will have to break up one of their most dependable bowling partnerships, as only one of either Utseya and Ray Price are expected to be included on Thursday. While both men are automatic selections in limited-overs cricket, Zimbabwe are attempting to move away from their reliance on spin as they re-enter the Test arena.

"Test match cricket and one-day cricket are totally different animals and when you play Test cricket in normal conditions you're always going to be looking to play your extra seamer rather than your extra spinner," said chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell. "We'll still have a look at the wicket on Thursday morning and see what we think it's going to do.

"It is a bit of a foreign concept for us because we've become used to playing a spin-based attack because all of our games have been one-day cricket, but we started thinking about it a long time ago. We knew that this would come about, so for the past six months we've been thinking about which seamers would be in the frame. We've got four here plus Elton, and those are the guys who've shown that they're best equipped to deal with the rigours of Test cricket."

The most obvious weakness in Zimbabwe's squad is their opening pair: Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo. The pair were able to cling to the crease for almost 55 overs in the first innings of Zimbabwe's match against Australia at the Academy ground in Harare two weeks ago, but neither man lends a feeling of solidity.

Sibanda was able to grind out a dogged 91 in that tour match against the Australians, but would be far happier in the middle order, which is where he plays his domestic cricket. That said, there is possibly no batsman with better, more orthodox technique in the country and Zimbabwe, who seem only ever to select Sibanda as an opener, must be hoping that that will be enough to see off the hazards of the new ball.

Mawoyo doesn't have quite as strong a case for inclusion. While he's showed some tenacity in recent times, his last significant innings was an unbeaten century against New Zealand A last October. At the very least, his experience as an opener in domestic cricket should stand him in good stead, as should Zimbabwe's extensive preparations for this match.

"The team is very much well-prepared," said coach Alan Butcher. "We have had a fitness programme since back in May and we had extensive match practice from the matches against South Africa A sides.

"We've had good variety in terms of the experience we've gained and the match preparation we've had, so I'm very confident that we're fully prepared and ready for the challenge on Thursday."

Zimbabwe squad: Brendan Taylor (capt), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 4, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Zimbabwe will do something . but bangladesh rockzzzzzzzzz

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 3, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    I am wont to agree with the majority that bemoan the absence of the match winner Mutizwa in the final squad announced by zim. A grave mistake perchance on their part or a tactical one - the more consistent teams dressing rooms have themselves been mum on their players conditions. Vitori is and should be a certainty as should meth and mpofu - Meth is an allrounder - chigumbura will obviously be the fourth bowler. Vusi and Mawoyo will open with masakadza and Taylor assuming positions 3/4 Taibu at 5. Chakabva takes the vacant 6th spot ...

  • onoff on August 3, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    I only want to wish Taylor good luck and hope he proves to be a good captain.

  • GauthamPrasad23 on August 3, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Ray Price the finest spinner for Zimbabwe, I hope he perform good in this test series.

  • Qdzy on August 2, 2011, 21:02 GMT

    How about consulting Andy Flower over in the UK on how best to manage a Test squad. He did a splendid job in the Ashes and continues to prove his mettle in the current India tour of England. I bet he'd be more than happy to share some notes.

  • on August 2, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    I think we need to find a solid opening pair so wish Mawoyo and Sibanda goodluck. rest of the team looks good though and they should give prosper 1 all rounder spot with Chigumbura getting the other.

  • Chalks on August 2, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    I don't understand. If both Utseya and Chakabva aren't expected to play then there isn't a choice between Vitori and Meth they could both play. A squad of 13 minus 2 surely equals the starting 11.

  • on August 2, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    all the best............................... we just hav 2 belive tht we can do t......nothing can stop us.............................. FAITH

  • Dr_Van_Nostrand on August 2, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    No Cremer? What are they thinking!??

  • on August 2, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    Picking a third seamer for the sake of it is just crazy. Zimbabwe need to go in with their best 11 players and Prosper Utseya is one of them. Indeed he is one of their very best players. Anyway, it's great to see Zimbabwe back in the fold, i'm sure they have the ability to impress in this match. Taylor, Taibu and Price are genuine international standard and i'm sure with experience others can step up to that level. Good luck Zimbabwe!

  • on August 4, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Zimbabwe will do something . but bangladesh rockzzzzzzzzz

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 3, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    I am wont to agree with the majority that bemoan the absence of the match winner Mutizwa in the final squad announced by zim. A grave mistake perchance on their part or a tactical one - the more consistent teams dressing rooms have themselves been mum on their players conditions. Vitori is and should be a certainty as should meth and mpofu - Meth is an allrounder - chigumbura will obviously be the fourth bowler. Vusi and Mawoyo will open with masakadza and Taylor assuming positions 3/4 Taibu at 5. Chakabva takes the vacant 6th spot ...

  • onoff on August 3, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    I only want to wish Taylor good luck and hope he proves to be a good captain.

  • GauthamPrasad23 on August 3, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Ray Price the finest spinner for Zimbabwe, I hope he perform good in this test series.

  • Qdzy on August 2, 2011, 21:02 GMT

    How about consulting Andy Flower over in the UK on how best to manage a Test squad. He did a splendid job in the Ashes and continues to prove his mettle in the current India tour of England. I bet he'd be more than happy to share some notes.

  • on August 2, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    I think we need to find a solid opening pair so wish Mawoyo and Sibanda goodluck. rest of the team looks good though and they should give prosper 1 all rounder spot with Chigumbura getting the other.

  • Chalks on August 2, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    I don't understand. If both Utseya and Chakabva aren't expected to play then there isn't a choice between Vitori and Meth they could both play. A squad of 13 minus 2 surely equals the starting 11.

  • on August 2, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    all the best............................... we just hav 2 belive tht we can do t......nothing can stop us.............................. FAITH

  • Dr_Van_Nostrand on August 2, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    No Cremer? What are they thinking!??

  • on August 2, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    Picking a third seamer for the sake of it is just crazy. Zimbabwe need to go in with their best 11 players and Prosper Utseya is one of them. Indeed he is one of their very best players. Anyway, it's great to see Zimbabwe back in the fold, i'm sure they have the ability to impress in this match. Taylor, Taibu and Price are genuine international standard and i'm sure with experience others can step up to that level. Good luck Zimbabwe!

  • banglafan on August 2, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Pothik bhai, after seeing the Zim players perform so well on the last day, I am scared of he possible result in the test. AreBD players getting too big for their boots like their Indian neighbours (who got thrashed by Eng yesterdaty) ? Zim will play a new fast bowler, Vitori, who was kept secret from BD !! It seems Zim is seriously trying to recover their image, while BD is doing just the opposite. A lot of people may end up cheering Zim in the test, who knows.

  • MeijiMura on August 2, 2011, 1:36 GMT

    Rakesh, I doubt we will ever see Coventry play for Zimbabwe again, at least not while Alistair Campbell is in charge of the selection committee. I remember his online tirade in the commentary box following Coventry's run-out in the game against New Zealand at the World Cup like it was yesterday. Instead of blasting Coventry as he did, he should have admitted his culpability in the stupidity of the failure of the selectors, himself included, to choose Masakadza in the squad as the second opener. There was no Sibanda either at that stage so it meant that Zimbabwe went into the World Cup with a single opener, Taylor. Coventry is no opener and he was thrust into an unfamiliar position expected to bat like Gordon Greenidge. He was on a hiding to nothing batting out of position, playing a role he was never meant to play and should never have been asked to play and yet he ended up getting burned for it, when the selectors and match committee should have been burned instead.

  • MeijiMura on August 2, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Prior to the final warm-up match Alistair Campbell was quoted in the Zimbabwean press as saying that Mawoyo and Ervine hadn't done enough to warrant selection in the test team and that they needed another run to make some runs and find some form. Now we see that depsite failing misreably in both innings Mawoyo has made the squad anyway whilst Ervine on the back of his second innings effort has made the squad too. Yet the batsman who was most responsibl;e for taking Zimbabwe to victory was left out of the Test squad even though he scored more runs in the match than both Mawoyo and Ervine combined!

    Something that needs to be understood about Alistair Campbell is that he is a subjective selector. He has players like Mawoyo and Chakabva that he likes the look of and regardless of how poorly they perform he persists with them all the while turning a blind eye to players who are performing, Mutizwa being the latest in a long line of selection injustices.

  • Biggus on August 1, 2011, 23:39 GMT

    Well, before the practice match I would have said BD were firm favourites but their batting during that game was a complete mess. Will it shock them into form or will Zim go in on a roll? I haven't a clue. It ought to be a most interesting contest.

  • on August 1, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    FOSTER MUTIZWA should walk this....he is the MIDDLE order

  • on August 1, 2011, 20:27 GMT

    Good to see that everyone agrees about Mutizwa with his great averages. @Rakesh Coventry will probably never play for zim again except for t20 because he's too inconsistent. Cremer is injured and Williams has been away playing international hockey and rainford has fallen down the order with vitori, chatara and jarvis being better. @ PontiusPilate you should know that Compton is english and Goodwin is 40 now so his time is up. But it's true that zim has now two good enough teams

    team 1: masakadza, taylor, taibu, cremer, utseya, mutizwa, ervine, chigumbura, price, mpofu, vitori

    team 2: raza, mawoyo, sibanda, chibhabha, chakabva, meth, waller, lamb, sw masakadza, jarvis, chatara, rainsford

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 1, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    What wonderful problems the Zimbabweans have- players who are maturing all at the same time- they could easily out together two teams - even without calling in the Ballances and Comptons and Goodwins in foreign fields! This should be the time to separate the test from the ODI players and let them all specialise their trades with occasional cross overs should the need arise because of injury or unavailability ... I echo campbells sentiments -that zims progress is best measured after the series against new Zealand - they will struggle- but I feel they need only show they can compete - that will be big enough after having been away for 6 years- it took them 4 yrs to win their first test and in the middle of the momentum they were side swiped by history-I wonder if Brian Vitori the zim seamer also wears glasses like the new Zealand captain Brian Vitori

  • on August 1, 2011, 19:26 GMT

    ..it's a threatening squad for Bangladeshis ! Mutizwa would have been a better choice though.

  • on August 1, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    So why didn't they submit a squad of 15 then? (what about injuries or just comfort of the good players being there) And why do they still stick with Mawoyo and Chakabva when they haven't done anything? They should have picked Mutizwa, Chatara, Jarvis and Raza with Chakabva and Mawoyo out. They all had an opportunity to bat in their favourite positions but still didn't bring the results. What does a deserving player have to do to get into the squad...

  • nadu_1975 on August 1, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Lets hope this Zimb side atleast make a turnaround of their own.

  • on August 1, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    I dont know why despite Cambell's expertise,the selectors failed to consider the latest data into their selection model.F Mutizwa ignored,why?b'ocz 3 day matches dont count in for test sselection?Where is G Craemer,Rainford as the bowlers' line-up?And why dont Coventry,Sean Williams,G Lamb figure here ?Maybe the reservation policy still overrules the efficiency considerations in the Zim cricket..

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 1, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    Good win for the Zim second string side over bandladesh! One Does feel that the zimbabweans might just have the edge over the asian side. Meth and chatara have really broadened the zimbabwean attack choices . Raza shower à steady hand with the team in à precarious position- feel he could do better in the ODI side what with his aggression- Taibu is a class act but needs to settle down quickly otherwise he will run not just himself out but others as well- my line up would be to open with Vusi and Tino, Taylor at 3 and Taibu at 4 Chakabva then chigumbura as the allounder at number 6 then Utseya ,Meth, Vitori,Price and Mpofu. Liam-Will the matches be screened live on ten cricket ?

  • on August 1, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing how Zimbabwe fare in their test comeback. What does poor old Forster Mutizwa have to do to get a run in Zimbabwe's test or ODI side though? A first class average of 41 and ODI average of 37 is far better than the vast majority of Zimbabwe's current players. Here's hoping the test lasts 5 days and is a close contest.

  • simba_chi on August 1, 2011, 15:33 GMT

    This test match should be an interesting contest. Zim have been intensive in their preparations. The same cannot be said for Bangladesh. I would love to see Vitori getting his debut. He impressed me during the Australia A tour. My XI: 1.Vusi 2.Tino 3.Masakadza 4.Taylor 5.Taibu 6.Chigumbura 7.Utseya 8.Meth 9.Price 10.Vitori 11.Mpofu

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  • simba_chi on August 1, 2011, 15:33 GMT

    This test match should be an interesting contest. Zim have been intensive in their preparations. The same cannot be said for Bangladesh. I would love to see Vitori getting his debut. He impressed me during the Australia A tour. My XI: 1.Vusi 2.Tino 3.Masakadza 4.Taylor 5.Taibu 6.Chigumbura 7.Utseya 8.Meth 9.Price 10.Vitori 11.Mpofu

  • on August 1, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing how Zimbabwe fare in their test comeback. What does poor old Forster Mutizwa have to do to get a run in Zimbabwe's test or ODI side though? A first class average of 41 and ODI average of 37 is far better than the vast majority of Zimbabwe's current players. Here's hoping the test lasts 5 days and is a close contest.

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 1, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    Good win for the Zim second string side over bandladesh! One Does feel that the zimbabweans might just have the edge over the asian side. Meth and chatara have really broadened the zimbabwean attack choices . Raza shower à steady hand with the team in à precarious position- feel he could do better in the ODI side what with his aggression- Taibu is a class act but needs to settle down quickly otherwise he will run not just himself out but others as well- my line up would be to open with Vusi and Tino, Taylor at 3 and Taibu at 4 Chakabva then chigumbura as the allounder at number 6 then Utseya ,Meth, Vitori,Price and Mpofu. Liam-Will the matches be screened live on ten cricket ?

  • on August 1, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    I dont know why despite Cambell's expertise,the selectors failed to consider the latest data into their selection model.F Mutizwa ignored,why?b'ocz 3 day matches dont count in for test sselection?Where is G Craemer,Rainford as the bowlers' line-up?And why dont Coventry,Sean Williams,G Lamb figure here ?Maybe the reservation policy still overrules the efficiency considerations in the Zim cricket..

  • nadu_1975 on August 1, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Lets hope this Zimb side atleast make a turnaround of their own.

  • on August 1, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    So why didn't they submit a squad of 15 then? (what about injuries or just comfort of the good players being there) And why do they still stick with Mawoyo and Chakabva when they haven't done anything? They should have picked Mutizwa, Chatara, Jarvis and Raza with Chakabva and Mawoyo out. They all had an opportunity to bat in their favourite positions but still didn't bring the results. What does a deserving player have to do to get into the squad...

  • on August 1, 2011, 19:26 GMT

    ..it's a threatening squad for Bangladeshis ! Mutizwa would have been a better choice though.

  • PontiusPilate78 on August 1, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    What wonderful problems the Zimbabweans have- players who are maturing all at the same time- they could easily out together two teams - even without calling in the Ballances and Comptons and Goodwins in foreign fields! This should be the time to separate the test from the ODI players and let them all specialise their trades with occasional cross overs should the need arise because of injury or unavailability ... I echo campbells sentiments -that zims progress is best measured after the series against new Zealand - they will struggle- but I feel they need only show they can compete - that will be big enough after having been away for 6 years- it took them 4 yrs to win their first test and in the middle of the momentum they were side swiped by history-I wonder if Brian Vitori the zim seamer also wears glasses like the new Zealand captain Brian Vitori

  • on August 1, 2011, 20:27 GMT

    Good to see that everyone agrees about Mutizwa with his great averages. @Rakesh Coventry will probably never play for zim again except for t20 because he's too inconsistent. Cremer is injured and Williams has been away playing international hockey and rainford has fallen down the order with vitori, chatara and jarvis being better. @ PontiusPilate you should know that Compton is english and Goodwin is 40 now so his time is up. But it's true that zim has now two good enough teams

    team 1: masakadza, taylor, taibu, cremer, utseya, mutizwa, ervine, chigumbura, price, mpofu, vitori

    team 2: raza, mawoyo, sibanda, chibhabha, chakabva, meth, waller, lamb, sw masakadza, jarvis, chatara, rainsford

  • on August 1, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    FOSTER MUTIZWA should walk this....he is the MIDDLE order