ZIMBABWE cricket team coach Heath Streak says his charges will go into the two-match Test series against the West Indies gunning for victory, as they look to carry forward the momentum from their tour of Sri Lanka in July.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Streak’s men host the West Indies in an important two-match Test series with the first match starting on October 21 at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo before the second encounter at the same venue set for November 2.
The former Zimbabwe captain declared that his charges would go into the two five-dayers targeting victory, an approach which yielded a historic ODI series win during the tour of Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe also came agonisingly close to upstaging their hosts during the clinched one-off series which went well into the fifth day before Sri Lanka’s hard-fought victory.
“Look we play to win, it’s certainly been my philosophy since I’ve come here,” Streak said in an interview yesterday.
“We’re not a team that is just happy to compete, we are looking to win the series and we will play to win both matches and I feel if we play to our strength we have a very good chance. We showed in Sri Lanka that we can compete with any team and whilst we respect West Indies and their capabilities, we have a lot of belief in our own ability as a team, both individually and collectively,” he said.
Streak also reckons that his squad are now a lot stronger and more experienced than they were during the Sri Lanka series following the return of former captain Brendan Taylor and strike bowler Kyle Jarvis from their County stints in England.
Taylor, who enjoyed an impressive stint at Nottinghamshire boasts of an impressive record for Zimbabwe, having scored 1071 runs in 13 Tests at 46, 56 with 4 hundreds and 4 fifties while Jarvis’ 30 wickets in 8 Tests have come at 31.73 apiece, and his strike rate of 52, 3 is equally impressive.
“Taylor and Jarvis will definitely bring in a lot of experience, they’ve spent a lot of time playing county cricket at a high level in England. It (their return) compliments the senior players we already have, guys like Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Graeme Cremer, and Sikandar Raza.
“It definitely bolsters our strength. I’m sure they’ll be a lot of expectations on them but I just think they’ll add value to the team. I always joke with the players that you can’t buy experience so it’s great to have guys of that calibre and experience to compliment the guys we already have,” he said.
Zimbabwe will also look to make use of their home advantage and Streak believes the conditions at Queens Sports Club will suit his team’s strengths as they look to upstage the fancied Caribbean side.
“We know what the Queens Sports Club wicket does and we’ve always enjoyed a lot of support here. Hopefully Bulawayo fans will come out in full force again and back the Chevrons and we can make them proud. We’re trying to make the wicket suit our strengths and that’s part and parcel of playing at home and hopefully we can use that to our advantage,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s preparations continued yesterday with some of the key players in the 15-man squad putting on solid performances during the practice match which entered the third day yesterday.
“We have been playing a practice match and I’m happy with the form of the players. Williams got 80 and Malcolm Waller got a 100. We’ve also had some positives from the bowlers; they’ve bowled well as a unit. It’s been good that the guys have got a run especially on the wicket that we are going to use in just over a week’s time,” Streak said.
The touring West Indies side which arrived in Bulawayo on Wednesday had their first run at the match venue yesterday and will play Zimbabwe “A” in a three-day warm-up match on Sunday.
Zimbabwe Squad: Graeme Cremer (captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva, Malcolm Waller, Solomon Mire, Sikandar Raza Butt, Peter Moor, Chamu Chibhabha, Tendai Chisoro, Richard Ngarava, Chris Mpofu, Mike Chinouya, Kyle Jarvis, Nyasha Mayavo.