I was pleased to find that Zimbabwe were competing at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010 in New Zealand, it is also interesting to look through the list of names, with a few having some pretty familiar Zimbabwean cricket surnames. Like Nathan Waller, who’s uncle, Andrew Waller and his cousin, Malcolm Waller, have both represented Zimbabwe at international level.
A player with a bright future must surely be Dylon Higgins, now 18, he burst onto the first-class scene in 2009, taking 11 wickets on his first-class debut. He is a leg-spinner, who lists Shane Warne as his cricketing hero. He also has plenty of family cricketing heritage with his uncle, Colin Robertson, and brother, Ryan, both having appeared for Zimbabwe. In a throw back to the days of Andy and Guy Whittall, he has a cousin in the squad Calum Price, who in turn also has a fairly familiar family name.
Other players to keep an eye on include Tinotenda Mutombodzi who is an important player for Zimbabwe with the bat while Steve Chimhamhiwa is also highly rated.
Overall, Zimbabwe will head into the tournament desperate to make a mark in the tournament after some disappointing performances in recent years, but will find it pretty difficult after being placed in a strong group which also features New Zealand and Sri Lanka and having already lost to Canada by 10 runs and then suffering a big defeat by 8 wickets to Sri Lanka earlier today.
In the group stages of the 2008 event, Zimbabwe lost all its games, losing to Pakistan by 87 runs, Malaysia by 70 runs and New Zealand by 98 runs.
Zimbabwe U19 then suffered a embarrassing defeat to Nepal by 99 runs in the ninth placed play-off, defeated Malaysia by 44 runs in the next stage of the competition, before losing to Ireland by six wickets in the 13th place play-off.
In recent matches Zimbabwe U19s has lost one-day series 5-0 to Bangladesh and 6-1 to Pakistan. It will draw comfort, though, from the fact that Pakistan is a two-time winner of this event and the consolation victory against this opponent illustrates that on its day it could be a dangerous side for anybody to face.
With Zimbabwe’s senior team going through a transitional stage, players will know that spots in the squad for the ICC World Twenty20, that will take place in the Caribbean in April and May, are potentially up for grabs.
And the fact some of the squad are getting their chance in a restructured domestic set-up, allied with improving opportunities in international cricket, means that these are exciting times to be a young cricketer in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe U19 Squad:
Dylon Higgins (c)