Zimbabwe's preparations hit by injuries

Graeme Cremer was the most economical of Zimbabwe's bowlers Getty Images

Zimbabwe's preparations for their tri-series and four-day matches against South African and Australian A sides have been hampered by injuries to at least four members of the 32-man training squad. Opening batsmen Tino Mawoyo and Terry Duffin and legspinner Graeme Cremer are battling for fitness days before the first game against Australia A on June 29.

There had been fears for allrounder Keegan Meth after he withdrew from a two-day game last Friday after bowling just two overs. He has been closely monitored by the team physiotherapists, however, and was deemed fit enough to be included in Zimbabwe's squad for their tri-series against Australia and South Africa's A sides.

Mawoyo has been on crutches while nursing a swollen ankle, but told local newspaper The Herald that he is "feeling a lot better and should be fine by next week". Cremer has been laid low by a long-standing knee injury he suffered in last season's Logan Cup.

"Tino sprained his ankle and we were hoping that this would be a three-week job but sometimes these things take a little bit longer," said Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher. The injured players could not take part in Zimbabwe's final round of practice matches and are doubtful for the upcoming limited-over games.

Mawoyo was called into Zimbabwe's World Cup squad earlier this year, but an abdominal muscle tear ruled him out and he was replaced by Duffin, who was also subsequently injured and played no part in the tournament. Both are fringe players, however, and it will be Cremer's injury that will be the major worry.

The best legspinner in the country by some distance, Cremer has been a regular in Zimbabwe's one-day side, picking up 53 wickets at 30.20 since his debut in January 2009. National selector Alistair Campbell was optimistic that all the injured players would be available for the two four-day matches against Australia A between July 15 and July 24.

"These are all key players who we were considering and would have played a part in both the one-dayers and the four-day games but it now looks as if they could miss some parts of the series," Campbell said. "It would have been nice to have all the players available for selection as we wanted to field our strongest side in the one-dayers.

"In the four-day games we will have more room to asses other players, especially in the fast-bowling department, where we have players like Kyle Jarvis who has been doing well at Essex in the UK, as well as other players."