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Saturday, 26 December 2009

A-Z of Zimbabwe Cricket 2009: Part 2 [D-F]

D - Dylon's Dream Domestic Debut

Dylon Higgins, younger brother of former Zimbabwe leg spinner Ryan, is an up and coming leggie and a middle order batsman himself, hailing from the prestigious St. Georges. He will be leading the Zimbabwean Under 19 team in the U-19 world cup early next year in New Zealand, and he probably sealed the captaincy when he made his first class debut for his franchise Midwest Rhinos at the end of October. He had been one of the most consistent performers with the ball with admirable control for a leggie in his U-19 outings this year, which would have convinced the Rhinos to sign him up for their squad. What he achieved on his first class debut, though, was something even the Rhinos management would not have dreamt of.

With most of the Rhinos squad away with national duty or sidelined due to injury, their bowling looked horribly weak without Cremer and Rainsford. Higgins took the field as the lead spinner for the match, and by the end of it, his overall bowling figures read 56.3 - 16 - 151 - 11. He took 6/93 in the first innings and followed it up with a 5/58 to reward Rhinos with a nail-biting 19 run victory in what was probably the most exciting match played in Zimbabwe this year. Considering a performance as strong as this one, it is safe to say that the U-19 team is in able hands. It would be interesting to see how Higgins develops in the coming years, especially in the domestic setup brimming with quality spinners.

Dylon Higgins Image: Courtesy - Zimbabwe School Cricket Community on Facebook

E - England's Ashes Win has Zimbabwean Flavour, Again

The England test team won the Ashes with a scoreline of 2-1 at home again in 2009, similar to the scoreline of their 2005 home victory, thus denying Australian captain Ricky Ponting the opportunity to taste success at the home of Cricket. It is not just the scoreline that looked similar, among other things, one of the major similarities between the 2005 success and that of the 2009 series was that a Zimbabwean was at the helm of affairs, as the coach of the England team. In 2005, it was the former Zimbabwe skipper Duncan Fletcher who inspired the Michael Vaughan led side to victory, and this year, it was the legendary wicket keeper batsman Andrew Flower who played a huge role in helping England achieve the feat.

Flower took over the reins when the much publicized spat between skipper Kevin Pietersen and head coach Peter Moores led to the sacking of both. Having got promoted from assistant coach to head coach position, Flower quickly brought the team together under the leadership of the new skipper Andrew Strauss, and against all odds, managed to forge the team and strategy to outperform the Aussies and win back the Ashes. His influence on the England team is there to be seen, and Strauss did not forget to give due credit to their coach for the unexpected, yet clinical success.

F - Franchise Cricket Brightens Future

Zimbabwe Cricket made sweeping changes to the domestic cricket structure as a step towards implementing the recommendations of the ICC committee, and in the process, moved towards franchise based cricket for the first time in their history. A successful attempt in neighbouring South Africa was reason enough to invest in the new structure, as five franchises, based out of Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kwekwe and Masvingo came into existance. As the year progressed, more details came through, and the franchises got their sponsors and were named as Mashonaland Eagles, Matabeleland Tuskers, Mountaineers, Midwest Rhinos and Southern Rocks.

Schedules for the Logan Cup, the first class competition, Metbank Faithwear domestic one day league, and the domestic 20-20 competitions were all drawn up with the new franchise teams as participants, and these reforms meant that a lot of the former players returned in coaching and playing roles, thus taking the standards of the domestic setup to a new high. Even some overseas players, including Kenyan stars Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo chose to play in Zimbabwe, adding credibility to the leagues. As the year progressed, the investments made started producing results, with some tight finishes and impressive performances, thus strengthening the bench of the Zimbabwe national squad. If the reforms continue in years to come, brighter possibilities await for cricket in Zimbabwe.

Franchise Logo Images: Courtesy -


Smiling Assassin said...

Fabulous work VP. Keep it up-Situ!

Prasanna said...

Thanks Situ :)