West Indies begin their 2-Test tour of Zimbabwe on Saturday, February 4 in what is the host’s 1st Test match in over one and a half years. Both games will be at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
The series follows Ireland’s recently concluded tour where Zimbabwe won the 3-match T20I series 2-1 and drew the 3-match ODI series 1-1 (the final game was washed out).
This is the beginning of the 2023 season for the Windies, including a series against South Africa and India. They began their tour positively in the 3-day warm-up game against a Zimbabwe XI that saw them put up 517 runs in the first innings (centuries from Captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Joshua Da Silva while Roston Chase remained unbeaten on 87). Zimbabwe XI were bowled out for 122 in response. West Indies ended the game on 82/2 in their second innings with the match ending in a draw.
Zimbabwe go into the series with a depleted squad but with former England batsman Gary Ballance set to play his first Test for his country of birth. Ballance who debuted against Ireland last month after switching sides has played 23 Tests for England averaging 37.45.
Regular skipper Sean Williams is out with a fractured finger and Craig Ervine will lead the side that also sees all-rounders Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl miss out due to franchise commitments. Pacers Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani miss the series through injuries. Donald Tiripano and Chamunorwa Chibhabha make a comeback while Tafadzwa Tsiga, Joylord Gumbie, Kudzai Maunze and Tanunurwa Makoni are the uncapped players called up to the squad. Innocent Kaia, who recently made his white-ball debut is expected to make his Test debut during the series as well.
Meanwhile, West Indies go into the series with Andre Coley as the interim coach after Phil Simmons announced his decision to step down after the Australia series and early exit at the T20 World Cup. Coley was assistant coach under Simmons in the Windies’ T20 World Cup win in 2016.
The Caribbean side have also recalled experienced fast bowler Shannon Gabriel following a knee injury to Jayden Seales and included two left-arm spinners Gudakesh Motie and Jomel Warrican in a team that has seen good Test success in recent times.
The West Indies, ranked 8 in the Test rankings have toured Zimbabwe, ranked 10th, thrice before this series – winning on all 3 occasions. The last meeting between the sides in October 2017 saw the Windies take the two-match Series 1-0 (winning the first by 117 runs with the second Test ending in a draw).
Total – 10
Zimbabwe – 0
West Indies – 7
1st Test – Saturday, February 4th – Wednesday, 8th
2nd Test – Sunday, February 12th – Thursday, 16th
* Both games will be played at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo @ 08.00am GMT/01:30pm IST
Zimbabwe: Gary Ballance, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Tanaka Chivanga, Craig Ervine (C), Bradley Evans, Joylord Gumbie, Innocent Kaia, Tanunurwa Makoni, Wellington Masakadza, Kudzai Maunze, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano, Tafadzwa Tsiga
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite (C), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Raymon Reifer, Devon Thomas, Jomel Warrican, Gudakesh Motie