Andy Blignaut has been named in the Zimbabwean squad for the first Test against South Africa at Cape Town which starts tomorrow (March 4). It follows Heath Streak's return to the national side in Wednesday's final one-day international at Port Elizabeth. Blignaut, an explosive allrounder, is the latest of the 14 rebels who have not played for almost a year to make a comeback after agreeing terms with Zimbabwe Cricket.
While out of the international arena Blignaut, 26, tried to forge a career in Australian domestic cricket by signing with Tasmania. But he had a chastening experience, as poor form and injury restricted him to just one first-class match, which resulted in figures of 12 overs for 79 runs. However, his Test record is more impressive - he has taken 51 wickets at 32 apiece with five-wicket hauls against India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He is also the only Zimbabwean to take a Test match hat-trick, against Bangladesh at Harare in 2003-04. A powerful hitter, he is no slouch with the bat either with a top score of 92 against West Indies, but he has never played a Test against South Africa.
Blignaut played for Zimbabwe A in the third match of their series against Bangladesh A at Kwekwe last week with limited success, making 10 and 14. But the good news for Zimbabwe's captain Tatenda Taibu was that he started bowling again after his injury setbacks. He will add another dimension to a Zimbabwean attack that has looked distinctly ordinary - with the honourable exception of Streak's return - and could find the pace and bounce of Cape Town and Centurion Park to his liking.
The top-order batsman Dion Ebrahim has also been recalled and the 18-year-old legspinner Graeme Cremer secures a place in the squad after picking up six wickets in his first two Tests against Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe squad Stuart Matsikenyeri, Barney Rogers, Hamilton Masakadza, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Williams, Tatenda Taibu (capt and wk), Alester Maregwede, Heath Streak, Andy Blignaut, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Twanda Mupariwa, Christopher Mpofu, Douglas Hondo.