The amazing record of 26 wickets in his first two first-class matches is held by Frank Fee of Ireland in 1956, but few there are who have done better than Glenn.
Admittedly Glenn’s feat was achieved against teams weakened by the loss of their international players, but the amazingly small cost of these wickets makes it still a very special feat. Glenn is primarily a swing bowler, mainly away from the bat, and the Mashonaland batsmen in particular were quite unable to handle him effectively when his swing was combined with immaculate line and length. Undoubtedly he will find the going harder in the future, as the top players size him up and his methods become known, but such a remarkable kick-start to a career should give him the confidence to tackle and overcome setbacks in the future.
Glenn, now aged 23, was born in Harare, but grew up in Marondera, where he attended Springvale and Peterhouse Schools. He learned the game there, where he was mainly a batsman, before finishing his schooling at the famous Harrow School in England. He did well enough at Peterhouse to play for the national age-group teams at Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 levels, and pays tribute to his coach there, Paul Davis. At Harrow, from 2005 and 2007, he also developed his bowling, with encouragement from the Harrow coach Stephen Jones, a former South African first-class player. He became a very successful all-rounder in English schools cricket, and has fond memories of his successful matches in the tradition matches against Eton College at Lord’s.
After leaving school, at first decided to pursue his career in England, and spent a season with the Essex second eleven. He played club cricket for Bishop Stortford, just north of London, and in 2011 played for the Unicorns, a team of professionals not contracted to English counties, in one-day matches against county teams. Phil Oliver, the Unicorns coach and former Warwickshire player, was another who gave him much help with his bowling. He spent several years outside Zimbabwe, though retaining his Zimbabwe passport, before returning last season to play club cricket and also had a few games for Mountaineers B team.
This season he returned to Zimbabwe again and was given a chance with Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. He turned in good results and was invited to have a trial for Matabeleland Tuskers, who were struggling for bowlers with three of their top men in the national side. At first Glenn was thought of primarily as a one-day specialist, but when given his chance against Southern Rocks at Masvingo he took it with both hands. At the time, though, he is still on a match-by-match basis with Matabeleland Tuskers, as he was still virtually unknown when contracts were worked out at the start of the season.
As far as his career performances are concerned, Glenn says that the match against Mashonaland Eagles “is right up there at the top” – as is only to be expected with nine wickets for 39 runs. Perhaps it narrowly shades his successes for Harrow against Eton at Lord’s. “I just try and swing it,” he says of his bowling, “and go for as little runs as possible. I try to be as economical as possible, and patience will pay. I want to get my batting back to where it was,” he adds. “I haven’t concentrated on it enough, and I should, really, so I want to work on that a lot, too, to get it back to the standard I used to have.”
Glenn does not bowl particularly quickly, and it would obviously help his bowling if he could add a yard or two of pace, given the modern obsession for having really quick bowlers to take the new ball, often regardless of how well they can use the shine. “I’m always looking to get more pace,” says Glenn, who is of average build but with broad shoulders. “I just need to put in a lot of hard work and hopefully that will be enough.” He is also working on how to bowl an inswinger as successfully as he does his outswingers.
What was Glenn’s game plan for this most successful match against Mashonaland Eagles? “Just to try to take wickets up front with the new ball,” he answers. “I knew it was going to be quite a good batting surface, so the key was to strike early with the new ball and let the scoreboard build the pressure, just try to go for as few runs as possible. It was a good surface, and with the new ball it did a bit, but with the old one it came on to the bat nicely. It didn’t seam much, but it swung quite a bit, especially in the first innings.”
At the moment he does not claim to have particular plans against each batsman, but is more of a bowler who plugs away with accuracy and waits for the pressure to take effect. “I just like taking wickets. It doesn’t matter who it is, really – if we see the back of him, then it’s happy days for us.”
Glenn is very happy with the way his career is going, and hopes to be able to divide his career in future between Zimbabwe and England. Certainly such a remarkable start to his first-class career will have attracted the attention of the Zimbabwe authorities, and it will be surprising if he does not get a chance for Zimbabwe A, at least, as soon as possible. He will need to develop his talents and work hard, as well as become more of a ‘thinking’ bowler to reach the international arena and achieve real success there – but, if he can do this and stay fit, the sky is the limit and it will be exciting to see how far he can go.