SA in historic tour of Sri Lanka

The match, at the Colts Cricket Ground in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, opens a historic tour for the Proteas as, for the first time ever, when the toss is conducted it will be a black captain who will be calling it for South Africa.

Left-handed batsman Ashwell Prince was last week appointed captain for the two Test matches against hosts Sri Lanka. The first match is set for the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo from next Thursday to Monday, and the second Test at the Saravanamuttu Stadium, also in the Sri Lankan capital, from the 4th to the 8th of next month.

However, Prince is expected to retain the armband for the subsequent One Day International (ODI) triangular series that also includes India. The squad and captain for the ODI commitments are scheduled to be announced after the first Test in Colombo.

Prince, 29, takes over the captaincy from Graeme Smith, who slipped while running and tore ligaments in his ankle. He has been operated on and will be out of action for up to 12 weeks. Prince was vice-captain for the South Africa tour of Australia, when Jacques Kallis was injured. This time again the star all-rounder is out injured, and will miss the tour’s two Test matches. The South African selectors have named as batting cover Jacques Rudolph, who had a good outing with the A side to Sri Lanka last year.

“The most important thing will be to get the best out of the guys and to get them to perform in those conditions, said Prince, adding: “The conditions will be very different to what we’re used to with the humidity and the heat.”

To add to the tourists’ human resource deficit, veteran pace-bowler Shaun Pollock has excused himself from the first Test match because he wants to be with his expectant wife. And so Prince will have his work cut out in Sri Lanka, even though the hosts will be without captain and opening batsman Marvan Atapattu, who is out with a back injury. In his absence, Mahela Jayawardena will be in charge. Sri Lanka will also have the services of their spin-bowling ace, Muttiah Muralitharan.

Cricket South Africa has also agreed to the request from Sri Lanka Cricket to amend their tour itinerary so that the third, fourth, and fifth ODIs initially scheduled for the 18th, 20th and 23rd of next month are re-scheduled to the 19th, 21st and 24th of that month, respectively.

Further, all the ODIs will now be in Colombo.

Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe cricket squad has left for South Africa, to play in four warm-up matches ahead of the incoming tour by Bangladesh.

The squad comprises captain Prosper Utseya, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Trevor Garwe, Ryan Higgins, Friday Kasteni, Blessing Mahwire, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tafadzwa Mufambisi, Tawanda Mupariwa, Piet Rinke, Vusumuzi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor.

The officials are coach Kevin Curran, his assistant Walter Chawaguta, analyst Mluleki Nkala, fitness trainer Dean Woodford and physiotherapist Amato Machikicho.

The Zimbabwe side will be based at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, where they will play four one-day matches: two against the South Africa Academy and two against Lions. against Lions.

July 2006
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