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Sunday, 27 December 2009

A-Z of Zimbabwe Cricket 2009: Part 3 [G-I]

G - Graeme Cremer creams Kenya

This was the breakthrough year for the affable leg spinner Alexander Graeme Cremer. He made his much awaited ODI debut in January 2009, four years after making his Test debut against Bangladesh, and created history straightaway. Cremer, who had taken a wicket with his first ball on his T20 International debut against Canada in 2008, took a wicket on the sixth ball of his first over on his ODI debut against Kenya, thus becoming the only bowler in the history of the game to pick up a wicket in his first over in two out of three international forms of the game.

Cremer's year continued to be a bright one, and the icing on the cake came in the second home ODI against the Kenyans at Harare, where he weaved magic to pick 6/46 in his quota of 10 overs, eclipsing the performances of the legendary Ray Price and a more established Prosper Utseya on that day. His all round abilities were on display earlier in the match, as he had scored a breezy 31 of 19 balls to propel Zimbabwe to a respectable total of 263. Cremer finished the year with 32 wickets, and a lot of promise for future.

H - Hamilton's Merry

A man who could score his first test hundred as a 17 year old against the mighty West Indies must certainly have some talent. Hamilton Masakadza, who achieved that feat in the 2000-01 test series, has this year caught the eye of the cricketing world by being in the august company of players who have notched up over 1000 runs in the calendar year in ODIs. Masakadza was in supreme form for most of the year, taking over the role of the most dependable batsman in the line up, and lived up to it, by virtue of producing some huge scores. Finishing the year with 1087 runs at 43.48, with 3 centuries - remember, he did not even have an ODI century against his name at the beginning of the year - must be a satisfying feeling, although he would have loved to end the year on a high in the two match series against South Africa, where he could not score much.

Hamilton Masakadza was in particular severe on the Kenyans, whom he got to face 10 times over the course of the year in the ODI format, and in the home series of 5 ODIs, he plundered 467 runs , a world record aggregate for a bilateral series of any length. He also made two scores of over 150 in the series, 156 and 178 not out, which again is the first time it has ever happened. If the Zimbabwe Vice Captain can carry this form further, he can be one of the batting pillars on whom Zimbabwe Cricket rebuilds itself, along with the likes of Tatenda Taibu, Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor.

I - Injury woes of Utseya and Co.

Injuries ranged from freakish to frustrating to life threatening ones for the Zimbabwean cricketers this year. While skipper Utseya twisted his ankle in an attempt to celebrate the catch he took against Bangladesh and had to remain sidelined for crucial fixtures in the subcontinent, Upcoming all-rounder from Bulawayo, Mbekezeli Mabuza, along with Simba Kusano, survived severe injuries from a huge car crash near Bulawayo. Heartening to note was the fact that Mabuza was back playing first class cricket for his franchise Matabeleland Tuskers towards the end of the year.

Other injuries included the ones to the highly unlucky Sean Williams (during practice and during play), Mark Vermeulen and Edward Rainsford, which kept them out of action at crucial stages of this cricketing calendar. Tatenda Taibu, Ray Price and Elton Chigumbura too had their niggles, which, at times prevented their all round participation in the games they played. With tougher challenges ahead and better facilities expected due to the revival of Cricket, one can hope and expect better fitness management in coming years.

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