Zim axe gritty Williams for SA test‚ India scrap tour match

Sean Williams of Zimbabwe during the practice match between South Africa and Zimbabwe at MA Chidambaram Stadium on February 12, 2011 in Chennai, India.
Sean Williams of Zimbabwe during the practice match between South Africa and Zimbabwe at MA Chidambaram Stadium on February 12, 2011 in Chennai, India.
Image: Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Allrounder Sean Williams has been left out of Zimbabwe’s squad for the four-day test against South Africa at St George’s Park this month.

The nuggety left-arm spinner and gritty middle order batsman missed Zimbabwe’s last test‚ against West Indies in Bulawayo at the end of October‚ through illness.

But he has since regained fitness and has taken seven wickets in his last two first-class matches and scored 96 in his most recent innings.

Williams’ skills wouldn’t go amiss on Port Elizabeth’s surface even though leg spinner Graeme Cremer is Zimbabwe’s premier slow bowler.

Perhaps the selectors decided they could do without Williams on the strength of batsman Sikandar Raza taking 5/99 in the first innings against the Windies. Raza scored 80 and 89 in the same match.

Batsman Malcolm Waller‚ fast bowler Michael Chinouya and wicketkeeper Nyasha Mayovo were also left out.

The squad of 15 includes uncapped fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani — only 21 and with five first-class caps to his credit — and left-handed batsman Ryan Burl‚ who has played nine one-day internationals but no tests.

“While Malcolm Waller needs time to regain his test form‚ the other changes have been necessitated by our desire to give youngsters Blessing Muzarabani and Ryan Burl a chance‚” a Zimbabwe Cricket spokesperson told TimesLIVE.

“Nyasha Mayavo was left out because we will be travelling to South Africa with 15 players‚ not the 16 we had at home to the Windies.”

Aside from being the first test scheduled for four days since five-day matches became the norm in the format‚ the game‚ which starts on December 26‚ will be Zimbabwe’s first day/night test.

The match could be a useful part of South Africa’s preparations for their next opponents this summer‚ India.

But questions will be asked about the likely readiness of Virat Kohli’s team for South African conditions in the wake of them scrapping a scheduled two-day tour match ahead of the first test at Newlands on January 5.

The decision is made stranger still by Kohli complaining last month that “ … unfortunately we get only two days before we fly to South Africa after this series [against Sri Lanka] gets over.

“So we have no choice but try to be in a game situation and think of what’s coming ahead of us.

“Had we got a month off ideally we would have done a proper preparation in a camp sort of scenario but we have to sort of make do with what we have.”

Word from the subcontinent is that the Indians think they could do a better job acclimatising to the conditions by simulating match conditions rather than playing an actual match.

Not for the first time‚ the way India prefer to do things doesn’t make sense.

Zimbabwe test squad: Graeme Cremer (captain)‚ Hamilton Masakadza‚ Craig Ervine‚ Brendan Taylor‚ Chamu Chibhabha‚ Regis Chakabva‚ Sikandar Raza‚ Ryan Burl‚ Tendai Chatara‚ Blessing Muzarabani‚ Tendai Chisoro‚ Peter Moor‚ Solomon Mire‚ Kyle Jarvis‚ Chris Mpofu.

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