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A chance to play for isolated Zimbabwe

cricket Updated: Mar 14, 2009 02:18 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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They are a little surprised to see no swimming pool or gym at the hotel.

But for the Zimbabwe President's XI, getting a chance to play makes up for facilities they are missing here. With a few countries refusing to play against them and their future calendar full of uncertainties, this is far better than stagnating back home.

They have come with about 80 per cent of their current national side. Tatenda Taibu has been dropped because of form and among a few others not present here are Sean Williams and Brendon Taylor who are playing in England and Australia respectively. With the team is Ray Price, who has come back after staying out for a few years because of the unrest in the country and its cricket board.

"Don't think by keeping Zimbabwe out, the international cricket fraternity will do us any good," said convenor of selectors Kenyon Ziehl who is travelling with the team. "The international sports community hasn't blacklisted us. We are there in other sports. Like every sport, cricket unites. Keeping us away wouldn't help anybody."

Ruing the fact that England has refused them entry for the world T20 meet in June, Ziehl said they should be compensated by the ICC and some alternative series or tournaments should be arranged. More so because they are barred from playing in the South African domestic competition too.

"Even our scheduled tour of Sri Lanka right after this competition for five ODIs has been put on hold after the attack on their players in Pakistan.

That's why this is such an important outing for us, even though we would get a maximum of three matches," said Ziehl. "The presence of the Flower brothers or Dave Houghton would have helped our youngsters, but we still have enough talent and expertise to guide them back home. It's about the opportunity to play against top sides. It's impossible to progress after a point if you don't test yourself against better players," he said.