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Zimbabwe - World Cup Ladder
11 Apr 2006
By: Liam Camps

Team Zimbabwe
World Cup Claim to Fame:
Super Six qualification in 1999 and 2003. Victories over England ('79), Australia ('83) and South Africa ('99).
Two-line Profile
1. Unsettled by civil and politcal unrest.
2. Lacking identity, quality and consistency.

1) Brendan Taylor
His ODI batting average may hover around 25, but Taylor is still the most likely Zimbabwean player to be in the Caribbean next year. Explosive batting, wicketkeeping prowess, and 8 wickets at 28 apiece. Some would like to believe that Brendan Taylor will carry Zimbabwe as far as they go. No pressure though.

2) Edward Rainsford
It's no secret - Edward Rainsford is currently far and away the best seamer in Zimbabwe. Unfortuntely, he may suffer in the shadow of Taylor's offspin.

3) Prosper Utseya
Utseya won't take many wickets, but his miserly manner also won't surrender many runs. He will leave more batsmen frustrated than dismissed at the World Cup, in his eternal goal to compensate for the haemorhaging of runs by whoever bowls at the other end.

4) Douglas Hondo
As dictated by stereotypes, Douglas will fit in nicely in the Caribbean with his dreadlocks. That's not the only basis for his selection, however, as he stands as a veteran among the current Zimbabwean seam attack. Hondo will give away many many runs. He will occasionally take wickets. He will always remain enthusiastic.

5) Piet Rinke
Harry Piet Rinke has started his international career with two half-centuries in four games. His attacking demeanour and useful fast-medium bowling will certainly be an asset to his country's challenge.

6) Hamilton Masakadza
Admittedly without his class schedule at my disposal, I dare say that Masakadza will be in the West Indies come March 2007. He refused a ZC contract in order that he continue his academic career. However, he has one more international century than top-seeded Taylor, and that earns him the opportunity of a high ranking. That he has only one international hundred in total earns him and Taylor the opportunity to stop underachieving.

7) Barney Rogers
At least as good a batsman as Brendan Taylor, Barney's appeal is undeniable.

8) Gavin Ewing
Zimbabwe's ginger answer to Robert Key... except not quite. Ewing may bear a striking resemblance to England's favourite backup batsman, but he is not quite the quality of batsman and a much better offspinner. His presence in the Zimbabwe line-up will add some measure of much-needed depth.

9) Elton Chigumbura
Usually can't bat, can't bowl. Regardless Chigumbura continues to get picked for Zimbabwe, and shows potential to be a useful allrounder on random days. He's only 20 years of age, and may well mature to a less consistently out-of-depth option by 2007.

10) Anthony Ireland
Better than Hondo and not as good as Rainford. Ireland should settle nicely into the middle of the seam attack.

11) Charles Coventry
Glovework aside, Charles Coventry will at least qualify with his batting prowess. The selectors seemed to have indicated that Taylor is the man behind the stumps, but Coventry will serve as a backup wicketkeeper as well as a specialist batsman.

12) Stuart Matsikenyeri
Rarely has a player received as many international caps as Matsikenyeri with such consistently mediocre results. His dismal international record aside, he may well end up in the squad, if only because he historically has.

13) Terry Duffin
Terry Duffin's debut as captain of Zimbabwe was also his One Day International debut. He's no Graeme Smith at the top of the order, but he is a hard-working grafter and will either consolidate his position on the ladder over the next year, or simply return to obscurity.

14) Ryan Higgins
In Sri Lanka this year, Higgins already had his World Cup moment, though of the Under-19 variety. His transition to the senior team has been pleasant thus far, but time will tell whether Zimbabwe have unearthed another youthful underachiever.

15) Blessing Mahwire
Like Matsikenyeri before him and Sibanda after him, Mahwire probably won't get better over the course of this year. He probably will be selected regardless.

16) Dion Ebrahim
Surely Ebrahim will receive his backpay by next year. Zimbabwe Cricket neither rewarded him financially nor with a contract for his loyalty to his country in testing times. Instead they had him arrested. That does not deter him from being his country's best available batsman and a fielder of some merit. For the intentions of avoiding humiliation at the tournament, the authorities will probably kiss and makeup with Ebrahim by the time 2007 announces itself.

17) Vusi Sibanda
A less than adequate international batsman and hardly a bowler at all, Sibanda may still wander into the World Cup squad somehow.

18) Andy Blignaut
Until he receives the match fees due him, Andy Blignaut will understandably not represent his country. The complication of financial issues ensured that Blignaut missed out on the captaincy earlier this year, thus giving rise to Terry Duffin. It would be a shame for Zimbabwe should he be absent from the team next year. This, as much for his claim as an allrounder as his disturbing resemblance to David Beckham.

19) Keegan Meth
The second of four who represented Zimbabwe at this year's Under-19 World Cup, Keegan Meth made an encouraging senior debut against Kenya. Few have seen him play, but his performances thus far almost qualify him as a better batsman than Sibanda and he can bowl too.

20) Sean Williams
Sean Williams captained the Under-19 team to this year's World Cup, and is thought by some to be the most talented young player in Zimbabwe. A left-handed batsman and slow left-arm spinner, Williams debuted for the senior team at the age of 18 in 2005. He will be 20 at the time of the 2007 World Cup but if his rejection of a ZC contract is anything to go by, that won't be a relevant statistic.

21) Gregory Strydom
Strydom's batting talent is unquestionable. At least not considering an impressive first-class record. He was born in South Africa and strikes the ball with the fury of Justin Kemp. However, he lacks the footwork of the man and consequently the success.

22) Tawanda Mupariwa
One of the more talented of the young pace crop, Mupariwa seems to have the tools to be a handy bowler for Zimbabwe. Armed with a good slower ball and a decent measure of accuracy, this former wicketkeeper will probably rise considerably higher on ladder if he is given more opportunities over the next year.

23) Tinashe Panyangara
Few cricketers have had the distinction of single-handedly inspiring the invention of a verb, albeit with a hideous result. Panyangara has such a claim to fame, when Cricket Web staff member, Neil Pickup coined the term "Panyangara'd". Alas, rather than his contributions to the English language, Panyangara is more famous for his 6-wicket haul that knocked Australia out of the 2003-04 Youth World Cup. He was playing senior cricket immediately after, but with far from the same devastating effect. Still, Panyangara has a better record than half the bowlers above him on this list, and may well sneak into the top 16 yet.

24) Christopher Mpofu
Good height and a smooth bowling action aside, Mpofu is young and raw. He has had some absolute shocking modes of dismissal whilst batting, including being run out whilst congratulating his team-mate on a half-century, but with the ball is where his strength lies. The talent is there, but the consistency and refinement is unlikely to be clear enough in time for 2007.

25) Graeme Cremer
Marked as a talented legspinner, Cremer was elevated to the Test team at the age of 18. He started usefully, but was then brutally dealt with by South Africa and New Zealand. He is yet to play an ODI and has not played a List-A match since the 2004/05 season. Providing he has recovered from the nightmares of his international hazing, it will not be surprising if he is considered for the World Cup next year.

26) Keith Dabengwa
Perhaps not the most talented of players, Keith Dabengwa certainly does not lack heart. His willingness to improve his game is apparent, though he would still find himself a fair way out of his depth in any international side.

27). Mluleki Nkala
The constant trier, Nkala's days for Zimbabwe appear to be over, but that was also the case before his last recall.

28) Justice Chibhabha
The final graduate of the 2006 Under-19 class. Chibhabha is a talented allrounder and one of the most experienced of the youth contingent. He may not be in the immediate picture right now, but there is time for him yet. A bit of domestic success with his medium-paced bowling and a bit of success with the bat, and Chibhabha has as much of a chance as any of his countrymen to force selection next year.

29) Alester Maregwede
Let's be honest. Maregwede probably has less of a chance of selection than any random cricketer who debuts over the course of this year. Considering that we don't yet know the name of said random cricketer, Alester slots into the ladder.

30) Heath Streak
All set to become the leader of the 2007 World Cup charge, except Heath Streak probably will never represent Zimbabwe again. At least not until Zimbabwe can match the appeal of Warwickshire.

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