For Southern Rocks, the only way to go is up after the disastrous events of last season, especially in the Logan Cup,where they lost seven matches and were only saved by rain from defeat in the eighth. Their spirit appeared to be crushed as the season progressed and most players turned in records well below their true potential, but a new coach in the vastly experienced and successful Dave Houghton should be good cause for revival and new hope and enthusiasm at the start of the season. After that, it is up to the players how well they will do.
The squad still does not look as strong as those of other franchises, with Brian Vitori the only player with a central contract. Those others with full contracts are Richmond Mutumbami, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hilary Matanga, Trevor Garwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tendai Chisoro, Sam Mwakayeni, Roy Kaia, Kudzai Maunze, Bothwell Chapungu, Tatenda Mupungu, Tanyaradzwa Munyaradzi, Peter Burgoyne and Ben Slater. The last two are young English professionals from Derbyshire, where Dave Houghton has been working as batting coach.
The loss of Chamu Chibhabha to Mashonaland Eagles is a major blow, especially in the one-day game. However, Garwe (from Mashonaland Eagles), Mupariwa (Matabeleland Tuskers) and Chapungu (Mid-West Rhinos) are gains from other franchises who should be useful additions to the team. The captain has not yet been appointed, the decision to be made shortly now that Houghton has just arrived back in the country.
There are several other players missing from last season’s team. Prince Masvaure, Taurai Muzarabani and Bruce Tembo are all still available on a “pay as you play” basis, while Alister Maregwede and Erick Chauluka may also play again but are also involved in coaching. Robertson Chinyengetere has not been retained, while the position with Stanley Marisa, just returned to Zimbabwe, has yet to be finalized.
Southern Rocks are likely to struggle once more against the other franchises, but Dave Houghton may just be able to ignite the fire in the spirit that will enable them to make up for their weaknesses. It will be a great day when Southern Rocks win their first-ever Logan Cup victory, and that may well make all the difference.