ON Sunday, the Zimbabwe “A” cricket team yielded to a second defeat at the hands of the touring Pakistan “A” side in the second four-day match at Harare Sports Club.
The Pakistan matches are being used as part of preparations for the new international season starting in August. After an indifferent playing season caused by the Zimbabwe Cricket-players standstill, local cricket looks forward to better times especially with the return of the experienced players and the promise of players like captain Tatenda Taibu and batsman Hamilton Masakadza.
Competition for places into the national team began in the just-ended Logan Cup, and is continuing in the ongoing international first-class matches with Pakistan “A”.
“Of Bat and Ball” reviews how players who took part in the two four-day matches against Pakistan “A” faired.
Captaining the “A” side after returning to national duty for the first time in a year, Carlisle’s personal performance was not very satisfactory, scoring a highest of 21 runs in four innings. However, Carlisle looked at home as captain, a role he has previously performed with the national side.
He took the new ball with Allan Mwayenga, and was ever eager to show how much he has improved since his bowling action was questioned by International Cricket Council referees last year. There is a lot more accuracy and outswing about Mahwire’s bowling now, but he still needs to work a lot more harder to be selected especially if the national side’s seam attack is injury-free.
The most first-class experienced player not to have played for Zimbabwe so far, Ferreira could be finally smelling selection after his 90 and 54 runs in the first match at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy. This was consistent with his notable Logan Cup show. Also an able wicketkeeper, the Manicaland captain is an attentive opening batsman who can stay for long periods at the crease especially in the longer version of the game.
Still just 18, the young all-rounder has got a promising future ahead of him. Chibhabha got a half-century in the first innings of the final four-day match at Harare Sports Club, and bowled a good line and length throughout the matches. If allowed to stay in the “A” side for a couple more seasons, Chibhabha promises to be a genuine all-rounder for the future.
Matsikenyeri is playing in the “A” side after losing his form in the tour to South Africa in January. The right-hander did not play to his known potential in the four-day games, and has to work extra hard to convince the selectors that he can bounce back by August.
He did not have a good start in the first match, but scored a typical patiently played half-century in the second match. Gripper is considered a Test specialist, and should get another chance to re-establish himself in the top order for Zimbabwe.
The only left-arm pace bowler of note left in Zimbabwe cricket, Mwayenga helped his cause with a first-class best figure of 4 for 64 in the first match. Like his younger brother Waddington, Allan bowls wicket to wicket, and has the ability to swing the ball away from left-handed batsmen. He was not very successful in the second match, and needs to prove that he can be consistent over a longer period of time.
Mupariwa continues to bowl well after his form in the One Day International series in South Africa. The Pakistan “A” batsman did not get too many runs off him.
Was also thrust into the “A” side after not doing very well in South Africa. Taylor recovered well in the Logan Cup, but did not carry that form against Pakistan “A”. He was lively behind the stumps though, after taking over the gloves from Ferreira for the second match.
Scored a morale-boosting half-century in the first match after capping a good domestic season following his chop from the national team from the tours to Bangladesh and South Africa. Vermeulen paved way for other players for the second match.
Carried the drinks in the first match and came into the second match at Sports Club when the batting order was crumbling. He could not sustain the heat. The Matabeleland all-rounder bowled a few off-spin overs, and will hope to get more involved in the one-day matches.
Young Williams is still showing a lot of promise, although he did not get enough runs in the top order. Has got another chance in the one-day matches.
Did not play: Charles Coventry and Anthony Ireland.