The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE Cricket convenor of selectors David Mutendera has challenged players to perform and get picked as his committee looks to reap from a six-year plan to get Zimbabwe competitive again.
The selectors picked five debutants in their recent two Test series against Sri Lanka.
The move raised some eyebrows.
However, Mutendera has defended the stance, arguing that their new system is anchored on a clear “perform and play” basis.
“Our job is to identify players to represent the nation at the highest level,” said Mutendera.
He heads a panel that includes Shepherd Makunura, Gavin Ewing and Prosper Utseya.
The Chevrons are onto their next assignment – a single Test, three ODIs and two T20s away series to Bangladesh. The squad is expected to be announced this week.
The first leg of the tour has been slated for February 22 to 26, which will be the one-off Test.
“The squad will be announced soon, but I can tell you we have a system of focusing on current form on the domestic circuit or recent international matches.
“We cannot have the same old system and expect different results, we have to go with the best players at any given time,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s squad could see some changes after Kyle Jarvis missed the second Test against Sri Lanka with a lower back injury, while Timcyen Maruma also suffered a quad tear.
Tino Mutombodzi retired due to a hamstring injury in a Pro 50 Championship match between the Eagles and Mountaineers, while Tendai Chatara could make a return from a bicep injury.
“We have a balanced selection panel and we obviously want the best for Zimbabwe Cricket.
“I’m not a ZC employer, l come in as an independent selector.
“I have a job and I am involved in young players’ development, so is Gavin Ewing, Makunura and Utseya. They are ZC employees who come with vast experience.
“I believe we will achieve good things, especially with the six-year plan set by the director of cricket, Hamilton Masakadza.
“In white-ball cricket we have the World Cup in 2023 and the T20 World Cup in two years (2021).
“We have to ensure that we have strong teams, so you will see us bringing in some young players. We want to see these teams doing well.
“Our Under-19s didn’t do so well, but were competitive at the World Cup.
“Some youngsters had good performances so we cannot ignore that.
“Obviously experience is needed and we have a core of experienced guys, but still current form is crucial.”
Mutendera, however, clarified that scoring hundreds and taking five-fors doesn’t make selection automatic.
“It’s how you score your hundred, how you pick your wickets.
“That’s why we watch games, I am big fan of cricket and if I am not on the ground, I always try to watch online,” he said.
The 41-year-old is a former Zimbabwe international player who played one Test and nine ODIs between 1999 and 2001.
He has been part of the selection panel before, but now returns as the head of the committee.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to be given this role, we have got a good panel and we all want the best for Zimbabwe Cricket.”
Zimbabwean cricket has been struggling with an ODI winning ratio of 23 percent over the last decade.
The lowest point came when Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup after losing to UAE by three runs (Duckworth Lewis) during the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.