LOGAN CUP MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v SOUTHERN ROCKS
At Harare Sports Club, 30 October 2012 (Day One).
Overnight: Southern Rocks (257/4) v Mashonaland Eagles.
Although the close of play score may not look all that impressive, it was the best day in first-class cricket for Southern Rocks for a long, long time.
They kept the mighty Mashonaland Eagles in the field all day at Harare Sports Club, and only lost four wickets during that time. Progress came through determination rather than inspiration, the cornerstone being the dogged but invaluable innings of 89 by the left-handed 21-year-old Ben Slater from Derbyshire. He painstakingly laid the foundation for a good team innings, and later in the day finally came some inspiration with a fine innings from Richmond Mutumbami.
Southern Rocks won the toss and, showing some courage given the reputation of the Harare Sports Club pitch for helping bowlers early in the morning, decided to bat.
Conditions were, however, favourable for batting, with a warm sun beating down and a pitch that was quite slow although it did give the bowlers a little help early on. The ball did not come on to the bat well enough for strokeplay to be easy, but the Southern Rocks’ policy was clearly just to bat and bat.
Slater opened the innings with Roy Kaia, who was however out for four in the second over, caught at first slip off the bowling of Innocent Chinyoka. Slater struggled at first, being beaten at times by some good bowling, and at the drinks interval his score was only eight. But his team needed him to stay there, so Slater got his head down and did just that. His next partner was Alister Maregwede, who played the shots of the day: two magnificent back-foot cover drives for four in the same over from Nathan Waller. But the longer he stayed the slower he became, and just before lunch he tried to break the shackles, only to drive a low catch into the covers off Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa with 30 to his credit. The lunch score was 69 for two, with Slater on 25.
The war of attrition continued throughout the afternoon session. Just one wicket fell – that of Kudzai Maunze – to a fine catch in the gully by Waller off Mark Mbofana for 24. Slater reached his fifty off 143 balls, and had reached 73 by the tea interval. His partner now was Mutumbami, with 22, and the total 166 for three. The bowlers tried to keep up the pressure throughout, although lacking – for various reasons – three international members in Raymond Price, Kyle Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura.
In the final session, Mashonaland Eagles missed running out Mutumbami, but they finally removed Slater. The opener seemed quite nonplussed by the fourth ball bowled by Chamunorwa Chibhabha and edged it to the keeper, departing for a most valuable 89 off 211 balls, including nine fours.
In the meantime, Mutumbami was gaining in confidence and his driving was particularly impressive. He reached his fifty off 77 balls and at the close was unbeaten with 87. Peter Burgoyne, another young Derbyshire player, provided stability at the other end with eight not out in over an hour.
It was an impressive day for the sheer application and determination of the Masvingo side which suffered disasters in this competition last season.