THE much-hyped Zimbabwe cricket franchise system unwrapped this week when the 2009/10 Logan Cup season began in earnest on Monday. The inclusion in the franchise sides of some players who had left the local game will boost competition for call-ups at both Zimbabwe “A” and national level. We look at some of the former exiles who should make a mark:
Team: Matabelaland Tuskers
Gavin Ewing (28) is perhaps the leading of the returning players to date since the Logan Cup began this week. He arrived late from New Zealand though, missing Matabeleland Tuskers’ match against Midwest Rhinos. An off-spinning all-rounder of great potential, he played three Tests and seven ODIs for Zimbabwe, showing plenty of promise to become a key member of the Zimbabwe side before disappearing from the local scene.
Team: Mashonaland Eagles
Former Zimbabwe Under 19 batsman Greg Lamb (28) returns home having played country cricket in England for Hampshire he joined in 2004 – quite a remarkable feat for a young player who left Zimbabwe with just club and national junior representatives matches under his belt.
An all-rounder who has developed rather late, Ryan Butterworth (28) has received a fair amount of opportunities at first-class without exploding. He is a tall and athletic player who can bat in the top-order, sometimes opening, and also in the middle-order. He bowls useful medium pace accurately, or spin. He has spent the last two years playing league cricket in England for the Whitehaven club as an overseas professional. In 2007, after an impressive domestic season with Old Hararians club, he was voted the National League’s Player of the Year.
An attacking top-order batsman who likes to hit out against spinners and medium pacers, Greg Strydom (25), had question marks over his technique when he played his 12 ODIs for Zimbabwe, having little foot movement at the crease which exposed him to genuinely quick bowlers. He is however a consistent first-class performer which should see him reclaiming his place in national reserve sides at least.
The short-lived Zimbabwe captain Terry Duffin (27), who captains the Bulawayo-based franchise Tuskers, is more adept to the longer version of the game, not able as he was to score at a satisfactory rate in his 23 ODIs. He is nonetheless a solid opening batsman who can rally the innings at the top.
Other potential returnees: Tinashe Panyangara, Alester Maregwede, Barney Rogers, Ian Nicolson, Anthony Ireland, Dion Ebrahim, Conan Brewer, Craig Ervine, Ryan Ervine, Stephen Marillier, Allan Mwayenga.