We want to put Cup controversies behind us, says Streak
BULAWAYO, April 29 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe cricket captain Heath Streak says he wants to put the World Cup controversies behind him and concentrate on his countrys tour of England.
Streak led the team to a Super Six berth in southern Africa but faced controversy around a protest mounted by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, who have both since retired, against Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabes regime, and by Englands refusal to play their first round fixture in Harare.
There have also been reports that matches in England may be targeted for anti-Mugabe demonstrations.
"Well be there to play the game in the right spirit and hopefully so will England," said Streak on the eve of his sides departure for the tour. "I hope we can be allowed to simply get on with the game.
"Hopefully the Zimbabwe Cricket Union can deal with other issues that do not pertain to the tour itself.
"Weve got a job to do, and weve also got supporters who will be following us around England. I hope we can give them some pride and joy."
Streak, who has played 51 test matches and 161 one-day internationals, leads an inexperienced side on the tour that features two test matches, a one-day international triangular series that also includes South Africa, and eight tour matches.
Only Streak, batsmen Grant Flower and Stuart Carlisle and medium pacer Mluleki Nkala have played a test against England in their squad of 14 after there were several retirements following the World Cup.
Andy Flower, Guy Whittall, Alistair Campbell and Olonga all quit international cricket, taking with them a total of 199 test and 598 one-day international caps, a catastrophe for a country with fewer than 50 first class cricketers.
"The experience base is quite heavily reduced and this could be a difficult tour, but there is bright young talent coming through," Streak told Reuters on Tuesday.
Former all rounder Whittall also saw some positives.
"It will be a tough tour for Zimbabwe because England are very strong at home, but it will also be a very good tour," Whittall told Reuters from Harare.
"Theyre going to play a lot of tour matches against first class sides...so it will be a good opportunity for the Zimbabweans...to get on with building for the future."
Both Streak and Whittall predicted uncapped 20-year-old all rounder Sean Ervine as the player most likely to make an impact.
"Sean Ervine seems to be blossoming, and conditions in England should suit him because he is a genuine swing bowler," Streak said.
"Sean Ervine is a serious talent," said Whittall. "Ive got my money on him to hold the middle order together and take Zimbabwe forward."
Streak said overcoming the loss of Flower, who averaged 51.54 in 63 tests, would be a challenge.
"To replace a player of Andys stature and quality is not going to be easy," Streak said. "He would be missed in any side.
"But thats the way the game is, the Bothams and Gavaskars all come to the end of their tenure."
Squad: Heath Streak (captain), Tatenda Taibu, Grant Flower, Dion Ebrahim, Mark Vermeulen, Barney Rogers, Sean Ervine, Andy Blignaut, Mluleki Nkala, Stuart Carlisle, Raymond Price, Travis Friend, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Douglas Hondo.
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