With two qualification spots up for grabs in Group B, Zimbabwe will be eager to make a fast start to their World Cup campaign and progress deeper in the tournament.
Placed alongside Scotland, Ireland, and the West Indies, Zimbabwe is technically seeded to advance to the final 12 of the World Cup. However, with Scotland and Ireland both going from strength to strength over the last few years, and the volatility in the West Indies’ form, this qualifying group is anyone’s to win.
Coming off a recent white ball winner over World Cup hosts Australia, Zimbabwe will be desperate to maintain their form and have announced a strong 15-man squad as a result. Captain Craig Ervine returns following a hamstring injury, while senior players Wellington Masakadza, Tendai Chatara and Milton Shumba are also back in the squad after time off for injury. Fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani gets a recall as well, to round out an experienced team.
Here is our position by position analysis of Zimbabwe’s T20 World Cup 2022 squad, as we break down each of the 15 selections.
Craig Ervine (captain), Milton Shumba, Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza, Brad Evans, Wesley Madhevere, Sean Williams, Tony Munyonga, Regis Chakabva, Clive Madande, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Richard Ngarava, Luke Jongwe and Blessing Muzarabani.
While a generation ago every cricket side would have at least a top six comprised of specialist batsmen, T20 has altered the game so much that of Zimbabwe’s 15 selections, only two are purely batsmen.
The two specialist batsmen named by Zimbabwe for the T20 World Cup in October are:
Neither of these batsmen appeared for Zimbabwe in their recent white ball win over Australia, with both last playing at the start of August.
However, their experience and leadership will be a welcome addition to the side. Ervine resumes in his role as captain, with the middle order batsman being one of three active Zimbabweans to hold over 1000 T20I runs. Ervine’s 1020 runs have come at a modest strike rate of 107.59 and average of 22.67, with the 37-year-old typically playing an anchor role or shepherding the lower order. If Zimbabwe is to qualify over the likes of Ireland or the West Indies, this strike rate is going to need to improve.
Milton Shumba plays at the top of the order, and will be expected to score at a higher rate as well. His 320 T20I runs have come with a high score of 66, at an average of 24.62 and strike rate of 116.79. The 21-year-old has long been considered a batting prodigy as he worked his way towards the national side through age grade cricket in Zimbabwe, and this year’s World Cup is the perfect opportunity for the youngster’s talent to be broadcast on the global stage.
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Making up for their light specialist batting selections, Zimbabwe has gone with six all-rounders for their World Cup campaign, four of which are batting focused.
Here are the six all-round options Zimbabwe has selected for the 2022 T20 World Cup:
Of the four batting all-rounders in Zimbabwe’s squad, all have significant experience and international runs to their names. With 199 matches and 3837 runs between the four all-rounders, they each average 50 T20I appearances and almost 1000 runs at this level. This wealth of experience will be critical for Zimbabwe, and they could end up playing all four of these men in their starting 11.
Wesley Madhevere is the youngest of the lot, with the 22-year-old debuting in 2020 and playing 36 matches since then. His 795 runs have been hit at a strike rate of 122.5 and the right-hander is primed for a big tournament in Australia, bringing his handy off-break bowling to the table as well. Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams are the two old hands, with 58 caps each and Williams the squad’s leading run scorer. Both strike at 125+, and are able to play long innings, or come out and hit big—evidenced by Williams 33 sixes and high score of 66, as well as Raza’s 37 sixes and top innings of 87.
All can contribute with the ball, taking over 100 wickets between them. Ryan Burl has 32 wickets from his 47 matches, while Williams also leads the wicket taking column for the all-rounders with 38 wickets from his 58 appearances. Impressively, all four batting all-rounders have a bowling economy rate below 7.5 runs per over, making them genuine options with either bat or ball.
However, the real bowling all-rounders are Brad Evans and Tony Munyonga. Both are young and new to the side, with little to show for their efforts at the international level. Having impressed in domestic cricket, both will be looking for an opportunity to establish their positions in the side this World Cup.
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In a model that many international sides are employing this World Cup, Zimbabwe is taking one established keeper and one greener selection.
The two players provide wicketkeeping options for Zimbabwe this T20 World Cup are:
Debuting 14 years ago, Regis Chakabva has also gone through his time as an apprentice wicket keeper. Over the past five years however, he has established himself as the incumbent man behind the stumps, with the 34-year-old accruing 41 T20I caps. He’s also handy with the bat, scoring 637 international runs at a healthy strike rate of 129.21 with a high score of 48.
Clive Madande earns his position in Zimbabwe’s 15-man squad very much as a development option. The 22-year-old has only made one previous appearance for his country in June of this year, where he used up 11 balls before getting out for two runs. However, selectors recognise his talent and potential, and there’s every chance they will give him some game time if Zimbabwe progress beyond the qualifying stage of this tournament.
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For once, Zimbabwe head to a World Cup with a settled bowling line up, offering plenty of depth and experience.
Five specialist bowling options have been chosen by Zimbabwe for the 2022 T20 World Cup, with four pacers and one spinner:
Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani both return to Zimbabwe’s squad after injuries, and will spearhead the side’s pace attack. With 77 wickets between the two, expect Chatara and Muzarabani to open the bowling and seal matches at the death, threatening to take wickets while restricting runs. Both have respectable economy rates, while Muzarabani can be a little erratic at times, though his experience in overseas leagues has helped temper his approach.
Luke Jongwe and Richard Ngarava support the opening pace bowlers, bringing a right and left combination between them. Jongwe in particular has been impressive of late, extracting 48 wickets from his 38 T20Is. Both can be a little on the expensive side, however, with economy rates of 8.0+.
Adding a spin option to the Zimbabwean squad is Wellington Masakadza. The 28-year-old has represented his country 60 times across the three formats, and has top figures of 4/11 in T20Is. His economy is solid at 7.23, and he has the ability to either slow down scoring in the middle overs, or pick up soft wickets, taking 31 across his 35 T20Is since 2015.