Zimbabwe are set to unleash 21-year old tall fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani on South Africa in the historic four-day‚ pink ball Boxing test starting at St George’s in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Muzarabani has only played five first-class matches for Zimbabwe’s regional side Rising Stars where he has taken 18 scalps at an average of 18 per wicket.
The Curtley Ambrose-like seamer impressed Zimbabwe’s management and he was included for the short tour of South Africa.
Although he only picked up two wickets in the warm-up match against the South Africa Invitation XI this week‚ both captain Graeme Cremer and coach Heath Streak believe they saw enough of him to believe he has what it takes to do a job.
“They [the Zimbabwe wicketkeepers] were very impressed [with him] as we all were‚” Cremer said.
“He’s very tall‚ he gets a lot of bounce and he gets the ball through when he gets a good rhythm. They had good positive feedback from the warm-up game and we’ll look to him to get us breakthroughs in the Test match.”
Streak backed up Cremer’s faith in the youngster‚ who only made his first-class debut in early October.
“There’s a strong likelihood [he’ll play]. He’s performed well in the warm-up game so there is a strong chance.
We’re excited to have him because he offers some variation to what we have. He’s an exciting prospect for the future of Zimbabwe cricket‚” he said.
Having had a taste of the pink ball in Paarl‚ Streak said Zimbabwe’s batsmen will need much mental preparation and have a good appreciation of the ball reacts at night.
“Obviously we haven’t played under lights a lot recently‚ and particularly against the pink ball. [It’s about] understanding the conditions and what the pink ball does. There’s definitely more that happens when the lights come on and later in the evening.
“It’s almost a reverse of red ball‚ where it does more during the day time and less at night. That’s something we’re going to have to think about‚ and tactically we’ll have to think about it.
“We weren’t as happy as we would have liked to be with our batting‚ so that’s an area we’ve addressed.
Hopefully we can get some runs on the board in this test.”
Cremer’s wrist-spin could also be a factor in the test.
“I find the seam a bit rougher – similar to a Duke ball. I actually prefer it to the red ball‚ so I saw a difference. I find the shiny sides are more slippery than the red ball‚ but as a wrist spinner the seam is better.”