This week’s matches (Tuesday 6 to Friday 9 November):
At Mutare Sports Club: Mountaineers v Mashonaland Eagles
At Masvingo Sports Club: Southern Rocks v Mid-West Rhinos
Bye: Matabeleland Tuskers
It is great news for cricket in Zimbabwe that Southern Rocks finally broke their duck and, after 32 losses or defeats, finally won their first-ever Logan Cup victory when they beat Mashonaland Eagles at Harare Sports Club last week. True, it may have been a rather contrived result against weakened opposition, but the scorecard shows clearly that in the play the weather allowed, Southern Rocks played better cricket throughout and deserved to win.
This means that there are now no easy matches, nobody can take them less than very seriously any longer, and the Logan Cup is by far the better competition for it. There was a good close match in Bulawayo as well; unfortunately again declarations had to be used to bring about a result, and the victory in the run chase of the reigning champions, Matabeleland Tuskers, will probably mean that opposing teams will set them more difficult targets in future – or no targets at all.
So after one round Matabeleland Tuskers and Southern Rocks sit at the top of the embryonic Logan Cup table with seven points each. Matabeleland Tuskers have a bye this week, so Southern Rocks have the opportunity to go top of the table if they can gain another victory.
In Mutare the two beaten teams of last week face each other. The dominating figure of the match will be Hamilton Masakadza, who scored a big century in Bulawayo last week, but Mountaineers still lost. They are now on their home turf, but despite the presence of Hamilton they do not have the all-round depth of Mashonaland Eagles, assuming the visitors are near to full strength this time. But a batsman like Hamilton can turn a match, as he almost did in Bulawayo. Mountaineers have a good bowling attack, although they failed to do themselves justice in Bulawayo, but it remains to be seen if Mashonaland Eagles can field a more incisive attack than they did last week.
Mid-West Rhinos had a bye last week, so this is their first Logan Cup match, and there is no way they will be taking Southern Rocks lightly now. It should be a fine battle there, with Mid-West Rhinos potentially fragile in the batting, especially with the loss of last season’s two top run-scorers, Gary Ballance and Riki Wessels. Vusi Sibanda is a batsman to be feared, but he is inconsistent and some of the other leading batsmen are out of form. But their bowling is strong, and it is to be hoped that the Masvingo Sports Club pitch, often in the past a bowler’s graveyard, will allow a result, as this could be a fascinating match.