Zimbabwe news March 26, 2010

Blignaut included in squad for Twenty20

Cricinfo staff

Andy Blignaut is set to return to international cricket after a hiatus of almost five years after he was included in Zimbabwe's squad for the World Twenty20 in West Indies.

His inclusion completes a remarkable return by Blignaut, 31, who was one of the 'rebel' cricketers whose row with Zimbabwe's cricket board resulted in the sacking of 15 senior white players in 2004. He subsequently returned to the side, and had been tipped as a potential national captain, but then walked out again in 2006 over after a disagreement about money owed to him by the board.

Blignaut hinted at a possible comeback in January this year, and after his fitness had been assessed by the Matabeleland Tuskers franchise he returned to action in Zimbabwe's domestic Twenty20 competition, striking 111 runs in four innings at an average of 37.00 and a strike rate of 133.73, including a matchwinning half century on his return to competitive cricket. He was then included in a provisional squad for Zimbabwe's tour of the West Indies, but didn't make the final touring party.

The 15-man group also includes batsman Craig Ervine, the younger brother of former national player Sean Ervine, who has returned to Zimbabwe but is still tied to a contract with Hampshire. Shingi Masakadza and Stuart Matsikenyeri, who were both members of the Zimbabwe side that toured the West Indies in March, have not been included in the squad.

Masakadza played in only one international game on the tour, taking two wickets in the final over of the second ODI in Guyana to set up a tense two-run win on his international debut. Despite good returns in domestic cricket, Matsikenyeri was woefully out of form on the tour, scoring just 42 runs in six innings.

Chamu Chibhabha also returns to the national set-up, being reward for his sparkling Twenty20 form for the Southern Rocks. He was the second-highest run scorer in this season's Twenty20 tournament, racking up 230 runs at 57.50, including three fifties.

With Zimbabwe seeking to bolster their sparse fast-bowling resources as they build towards a return to Test cricket, Tendai Chatara, the Zimbabwe Under-19 opening bowler, will travel with the team to the West Indies to gain some experience of cricket at higher levels, and will play in a four-day match against West Indies A, starting on April 16, before returning home.

The World Twenty20 tournament, which begins on April 30, will also see new coach Alan Butcher take control of the side for the first time. Zimbabwe are grouped with Sri Lanka and New Zealand at the competition, and begin their campaign with a game against the Sri Lankans at the Providence stadium in Guyana on May 3.

Zimbabwe squad Prosper Utseya (capt), Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry, Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Greg Lamb, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda, Ray Price, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Chris Mpofu, Timycen Maruma, Craig Ervine

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  • Tabs on March 31, 2010, 2:56 GMT

    this is good for Zim cricket.really great news.Ervine(Sean)should come back and play soon once his contract issues are sorted

  • Sam on March 30, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    Andy Blignaut wil be good for our middle order. My worry is our opening batsmen and the lack of pace in our attack. Vusi is not as good as I thought he was these days. Masakadza struggled in the last two matches in West Indies.

  • Sean on March 29, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Iam happy to see blignaut included, but i was also hoping for some t20/t20 specialists i.e Duffin and vermeulen who can help push scores up. Where is jarvis?

  • Andrew on March 27, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Good to see Blignaut back / as a batter anyways. Hoping for at least one match winning innings from him, but all depends on what the targets are. As a bowler hes no real threat. Even when he was playing regularly, and in his prime he was expensive, having said that, which of our bowlers are a threat? Lamb, Price, Usteya control reasonably well, Cremer does go for the wicket a little more and all perform admirably but not the line/up of a team that will make great inroads. I hope they throw caution to the wind and swing the bat, in the likes of Taibu, Masakadza, Blignaut, Taylor and Chigumbura we have more hope of getting our pride/saving win chasing down a total than defending it

  • Ahmed on March 27, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    great to see andy back in the frame. i think the changes made were good. hopefully sean ervine can come back sooner rather than later. hes a definite champion and zims really need him.

  • DANIEL on March 27, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    @Rakesh Sudan, dude what are u on about? Did u watch the Windies series, Lamb was probably Zim's best bowler in the Windies and really economical which is more important in T20 cricket. Sibanda whilst not having the greatest of tours has still performed really well domestically so am in agreement on that call. I hope that Blignaut bowls though, he hasn't bowled at all this season, so is he going as a specialist batsman I wonder? Ervine is bound by a Kolpak deal and Williams hasn't really performed so a fair call

  • Mir Sher on March 27, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    Welcome back Andrew Blignaut :-) He's my most favourite all-rounder from Zimbabwe after the retirement of Heath Streak, Sean Ervine & Doug Marillear !

  • Levi on March 27, 2010, 2:35 GMT

    if so reliant on spinners then forget pace altogether. unfortunate for kyle jarvis though

  • Levi on March 27, 2010, 2:33 GMT

    Marillier, S.Ervine, Williams, Dabengwa, Mupariwa, Rainsford ? all MIA

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2010, 1:37 GMT

    The return of Blignaut is just what the doctor ordered for Zimbabwe cricket. Their middle order just needed an experienced all-rounder to support the fast-rising star Chigumbura ( although he has 6 years experience, Blignaut has 11). Furthermore Zimbabwe needed to add some more class and experience to the small pace attack of Mpofu and Chigumbura. With Blignaut around, the spinners will not feel overburdened with the task of wicket-taking all the time.

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