New Zealand

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New Zealand and Zimbabwe Draw in First 'A' Test

A somewhat under=reported match, this one, thanks to the Twenty20 series in South Africa, but important nonetheless as Zimbabwe 'A' got to prove their mettle against a strong New Zealand 'A' side in Harare. The main lesson for Zimbabwe to take from the match was that their bowling attack lacked penetration - New Zealand were able to post 426 in their first innings and looked well-set in their second before making a sporting declaration on 280/5 - but as with the senior squad in South Africa, the batsmen finally stood up to be counted, with a number of impressive knocks being produced: Regis Chakabva posted 103 not out in the first innings as Zim reached 365/7 before declaring, while the second innings was dominated by Tino Mawoyo's unbeaten 125 as he carried his bat until the close of play. Steve Marillier (46 & 23), Vusi Sibanda (38 & 42), Craig Ervine (55 & 21) and Timycen Maruma (59 & DNB) all also made significant contributions to help keep Zimbabwe in the hunt.

The figures from the bowlers were less rosy, though. Tinashe Panyangara (2/76 & 2/45) and Njabulo Ncube (3/47 & 1/26) led the bowling figures, but New Zealand rarely seemed bothered by the attack, identifying this as a area which definitely needs some work - especially with the senior side already struggling for depth in the bowling department. Still, plenty of positives to be taken from the match for Zimbabwe, who certainly didn't disgrace themselves. Full scorecard below the cut, and the 2nd 'A' Test begins in Harare on the 14th October (Thursday).
New Zealand 426 (100.5 overs; Flynn 162, Ncube 3/47) & 280/5d (73 overs; Franklin 107*, Panyangara 2/45), Zimbabwe 365/7d (115 overs; Chakabva 103*, Beard 4/87) & 243/5 (54 overs; Mawoyo 125*, Martin 2/38). Match drawn.

NZ 'A' Draw with Mountaineers

Presented without much comment, the scorecard (below the cut) for the 2-day tour match between New Zealand A and Mountaineers. With each side playing 15 players (11 batting, 11 fielding) and a rash of "retired out" entries for the Kiwis, it's clear that this was simply a little batting practice for both sides - although it should be noted that Tino Mawoyo still managed a knock of 208 not-out, carrying his bat for the full Mountaineers innings. Impressive.
New Zealand 'A' 391 (83.5 overs; How 78, Tiripano 4/47), Mountaineers 332/7 (89 overs; Mawoyo 208*, Martin 2/16). Match drawn.

Zimbabwe 'A' Squad for New Zealand Series Announced

ZC have announced the squad to face New Zealand 'A'. The series gets underway with a two-day tour match against Mountaineers beginning on Sunday, before moving on to three 4-day matches between the two national 'A' sides. Here's the Zim squad:

Vusi Sibanda (captain), Prince Masvaure, Steve Marillier, Craig Ervine (1st game only), Sean Williams (1st game only), Forster Mutizwa, Malcolm Waller, Tino Mawoyo, Friday Kasteni, Rregis Chakabva, Taurai Muzarabani, Michael Chinouya, Solomon Mire, Trevor Garwe, Keegan Meth, Charles Coventry (2nd and 3rd games only), Natsai Mushangwe, Tendai Chatara, Njabulo Ncube, Tinashe Panyangara, Timycen Maruma.
[Source: ZC]

Preliminary Schedule for New Zealand 'A' Tour Released

The preliminary schedule for New Zealand 'A's tour of Zimbabwe has been released, with on warm-up match and three 4-day matches against Zimbabwe 'A' featuring. Venues have yet to be confirmed, and the tour is subject to New Zealand Cricket carrying out a satisfactory security assessment beforehand. Here are the dates:

4-5 October 2010	TBA v New Zealand 'A'
8-11 October 2010	Zimbabwe 'A' v New Zealand 'A'
15-18 October 2010	Zimbabwe 'A' v New Zealand 'A'
22-25 October 2010	Zimbabwe 'A' v New Zealand 'A'

The New Zealand squad for the series is: James Franklin (capt), Graeme Aldridge, Brent Arnel, Nick Beard, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Jamie How, Peter Ingram, Tim McIntosh, Chris Martin, Jeetan Patel, Bhupinder Singh, Reece Young.

New Zealand 'A' to Visit Zim in October

The New Zealand Herald reports that New Zealand 'A' are to visit Zimbabwe in October, for a series including several 4-day matches, as a forerunner to the scheduled visit of the senior Blackcap side next year. NZC chief executive said of the tour:

t will be really useful for the test specialists who will need to be fit and ready for the tour to India

They'll be the first New Zealand side to visit the country since the tri-series of 2005. Hat-tip to forum member CrimsonAvenger for spotting the news.
New Zealand Herald - Zimbabwe cricket link to be renewed

Coltart Secures NZ Committment to Tour?

Interesting little tweet from Sports minister David Coltart's Twitter feed this morning:

Great meetings with New Zealand Foreign Minister and NZ cricket - NZ Govt will support education and NZ cricket will tour Zimbabwe soon!!

The news from CricInfo late yesterday was that Coltart had met with his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, who had essentially punted the matter to New Zealand Cricket, on the basis that the NZ government "would not oppose" a Blackcap tour. CNZ Chief Executive Justin Vaughan later issued his own statement on the matter:

"I am aware that the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Murray McCully, had a positive meeting with Mr Coltart in Wellington earlier this week. It is clear from that meeting that our government's position is that they would not oppose the Black Caps touring Zimbabwe next year.

"The tour by the Black Caps in May 2011 was the principal topic of my discussion with Mr Coltart, however we are also considering the possibility of other cricketing exchanges, such as the potential for a New Zealand A team to tour Zimbabwe at some stage in the near future.

"It is important to stress that any tour by New Zealand cricket teams to Zimbabwe would need to be prefaced by full safety and security checks, which are standard practice for New Zealand Cricket."

So, where does this leave us? New Zealand "owe" us a tour under the ICC's Future Tours Programme, with the FTP calling for two Tests and three ODIs - that tour was originally scheduled for 2009, was postponed to 2010, and was postponed further to 2011 on rather tenuous "security and health" grounds earlier this year. It now seems that 2011 date will stick. Interestingly, Peter Chingoka's recent announcement of Zim's return to Test cricket specifically mentioned New Zealand as one of the sides they would like to take on in the 5-day game. As they say, game on...
CricInfo - New Zealand look to resume ties with Zimbabwe

Zim Exit World T20 After Folding to New Zealand

It should have been a grudge match, with New Zealand's refusal to honour their Future Tours Programme commitment to tour Zim a constant annoyance to Zim fans, but after impressing in their warmup matches, Zimbabwe capitulated in the most abject fashion to hand New Zealand a place in the Super Eight and earn their own early trip home. Batting first, Zimbabwe were bowled out for a pitiful 84 inside 16 overs - Tatenda Taibu (21) and Hamilton Masakadza (20) got the side off to a cracking start, but once they were out of the way Zimbabwe's innings became a progression of tame wickets that gave the side no honour at all. Scott Styris (3/5 from 2 overs) and Nathan McCullum (3/16 from 4 overs) did most of the damage.

Zim's bowlers also had no answer for New Zealand's batting - Utseya scored one success, taking the wicket of Jesse Ryder early in the innings, but from there the Blackcaps marched on until the rain came down. Play stopped with 8.1 overs bowled, enough to count as a match and with New Zealand ahead of the D/L sums. And that was the end of that.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe's next international action is the tri-series against Sri Lanka and India, which gets underway with Zimbabwe v India at Bulawayo on May 2th.
Zimbabwe 84 (15.1/20 overs; Taibu 21, Styris 3/5), New Zealand 36/1 (8.1/8.1 overs; McCullum 22*, Utseya 1/21). New Zealand win by 7 runs (D/L Method).

ZC Confirms New Zealand Pullout "Unilateral"

Both The Herald and the Zimbabwe Independent are reporting this morning that New Zealand's decision to pull out of their scheduled tour of Zimbabwe was taken without the agreement of ZC - a move that may leave Cricket New Zealand open to ICC sanction. The tour is part of the ICC's Future Tours Programme, which member countries are required to honour unless security issues can be shown to exist. It seems to be the case that no formal security assessment has been undertaken. Sports minister David Coltart was very clear on his opinion of New Zealand's decision, which cited security and health grounds:

I find the reasons given for the cancellation very ridiculous. Zimbabwe is a safe destination with no threat like Al-Qaeda or violent crime like we see in other countries. On the other hand, while the state of our public health facilities has not been very good, we have very good private institutions and doctors. I regret that I have come only to know of the final decision through the Press."

"It seems it’s a decision taken by the government rather than the team itself. I believe the use of health and safety risk reasons is wrong. I said it last year and I repeated it again this year. Zimbabwe is one of the safest places to visit and play cricket. Harare and Bulawayo have good heath facilities and to that extent there is no health risk whatsoever."

ZC managing director Ozias Bvute was also dismissive of CNZ's excuses:

"We have found the stance taken by the New Zealand Cricket board to be factually incorrect and unfortunate. It was a unilateral decision that was presented to us without discussion. Subsequently, we have written back to the New Zealand board acknowledging receipt of their letter and stated position."

The ICC would not be drawn on the matter, citing apparent confusion over whether the two boards had agreed the postponement or not.
The Herald - Coltart blasts New Zealand | Zimbabwe Independent - New Zealand tour pullout unilateral

Black Caps Chicken Out. Again.

Cricket New Zealand are reportedly looking to again reschedule their Future Tours Programme tour of Zimbabwe, originally scheduled for June 2009 before being initially moved to June 2010, citing "security and health" issues. Alternatively, they're prepared to play the series on neutral territory, according to their CEO Justin Vaughan:

"It is clear from our recent discussions that the government's assessment of the security situation in Zimbabwe has not changed from that of a year ago, when the scheduled tour was postponed. We have a possible window for the rescheduling of the tour next year [2011] in May/June. The other option is that we look at playing the scheduled tour in a neutral venue."

Zimbabwe & Zimbabwe XI are already slated to play Ireland and Scotland on neutral ground later this year for Intercontinental Cup matches and ODIs against Ireland, so there's precedent for this. I've already covered my thoughts on CNZ's approach to this issue in a previous article - I'll limit myself here to saying that they seem to have all the backbone of their emblem.
Cricinfo - New Zealand pull out of Zimbabwe tour

Zim Losing Streak Continues as New Zealand Claim Victory

Zimbabwe completed the group stage of their U19 World Cup campaign with a 7-wicket loss to New Zealand earlier this morning. The story was uch the same as Zimbabwe's outing against New Zealand - a woeful display with the bat (only three players reaching double figures, with Tino Mutombodzi's 28 being the best of the bunch. Zim managed 135 from their innings and can count themselves luck to have reached it, with NewZealand conceding 28 runs themselves by way of extras. Tim Johnston led the bowling with 3/37.

The runchase was a formality for New Zealand, with the opening pair of Harry Boam (58) and Tom Latham (57*) doing most of the work, and the chase was over within 26 overs. Calum Price took 2/32 for Zimbabwe, as New Zealand collapsed slightly during the closing overs, but by then the match was essentially already over.

Zimbabwe's next match is now in the Plate quarter-finals on January 23rd, against Ireland. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut.
Zimbabwe 135 (42.2 overs; Mutombodzi 28, Johnston 3/37), New Zealand 140/3 (25.3 overs; Boam 58, Price 2/32). New Zealand win by 7 wickets.

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