The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
TWO English County Cricket Clubs, Derbyshire as well as Durham are headed for Zimbabwe next month for their pre-season fine tuning.
Having accepted ZC’s invitation, Derbyshire and Durham will play across three formats in matches against local select opposition in Bulawayo and Harare respectively.
It is the first that that an English county team is visiting the country in over two decades, with the last English side to officially tour Zimbabwe being Worcestershire who did so in March/April 1997.
Derbyshire, who have former Zimbabwe captain and coach Dave Houghton as their head of cricket are according to Zimbabwe Cricket be touring the country for the first time and will face a Zimbabwe Select side in two T20 matches, two 50-over games and two three-day fixtures at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Durham, who toured Zimbabwe in the 1991/92 season, will play two three-day matches versus the Chairman’s XI at Harare Sports Club in the capital.
ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza welcomed the tours by the two English county sides as a huge boost for the game in Zimbabwe.
“We are thrilled to be hosting Derbyshire and Durham. The magnitude and importance of their visit cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
“While our players will learn big lessons and gain invaluable experience from playing against such top opposition, we believe this marks the beginning of a new chapter that will hopefully see more English county teams touring Zimbabwe as that will go a long way in preparing our players for the rigours of high-level and international cricket.”
The visit by Derbyshire and Durham is seen as a warming up of relations between ZC and the England and Wales Cricket Board. Zimbabwe and England have not had the best of relations over the years, with the last time the two teams met on a cricket field being at the 2007 ICCC World Twenty20 in South Africa. Zimbabwe were forced to pull out of the 2009 ICC World T20 staged in England after the British Government indicated that they would not grant the team visas to compete.