In the match at Harare Sports Club, playing for Mashonaland Eagles against Mid-West Rhinos, Reggie – as he is often known – played a monumental innings of 240 runs, which is the sixth-highest first-class score ever made for any Zimbabwean team, and the third-highest in the Logan Cup since it attained first-class status. Guy Whittall holds the record with 247 runs.
Reggie’s 240 is the highest knock in the history of franchise cricket in Zimbabwe.
Most impressive of all was Reggie’s concentration. He batted for nine and a half hours in all, without giving a real chance, faced 411 balls, and his concentration never wavered seriously until the delivery that dismissed him.
Reggie hit 27 fours and a six, and never got bogged down during such a long stay, although he did take a bit of a breather in the eighties. He played every delivery on its merits, keeping the score moving, but never taking risks.
The pitch itself was quite flat, although Reggie did feel there was some uneven bounce at times, and the new ball did move a bit, although it did not retain its shine for long. Even after that, there was sometimes some reverse swing apparent.
There were two very fine international bowlers in the opposition in Edward Rainsford and Mike Chinouya, backed up very consistently and well by Neville Madziva, who Reggie actually rated the highest of the three on the day. So it was by no means easy runs against a bland attack.
Reggie naturally rates this as the most outstanding performance of his career to date.
He went in to bat with the third ball of the innings, after the first wicket had fallen without a run on the board.
“I obviously did a lot of work in our pre-season preparations,” he says, “but I think the biggest thing was my mental state, being able to restrict myself and tell myself to keep going, to keep playing the bowling on merit. This I think was a huge difference for me. Several times I had to contain myself from going over the top and things like that. I just told myself to keep going and I was able to restrict myself and calm myself. I really managed to switch off [from distractions].
“We lost the first wicket after two balls, so going in number three I knew I just had to see off the new ball, because the ball was doing quite a bit. I knew I had to give myself some time, as there was plenty of time in the game. But I didn’t know I would go on to bat nine and a half hours! Their bowlers bowled in pretty good areas most of the time, so it wasn’t easy to get them away.”
Reggie first played cricket to an extent in primary school, but this only really developed at high school where he played his first competitive game when in Form Two. He attended Highfield High School and later on moved to Churchill.
“Funnily enough, when I started off I was a leg-spinner,” he says. “Then at one practice session we needed a guy to keep wicket, and there was no one else to keep, so I volunteered, and that was how I started wicket-keeping.”
Reggie pays tribute to all the various coaches who have helped him over the years, and also to his grandfather, who gave him great encouragement.
“Every coach has come with his different set of ideas and coaching philosophy,” he says, “so I have definitely taken different things from different coaches along the way. I’m pretty grateful for that. The biggest thing was getting the freedom to play my natural game from them and build myself up.”
His first coach in Form Two was someone he now just remembers as Stephen from Waterfalls, while Norbert Manyande later played a major part, and now Stephen Mangongo is the Mashonaland Eagles coach, among others.
In this particular match for Mashonaland Eagles, Reggie was not keeping wicket. Joylord Gumbie had been given the gloves while Reggie played as a specialist batsman.
Did the fact that he was not keeping wicket help him to bat better?
“Not necessarily,” he says, after a pause for thought. “I did quite a bit of mileage in the field. But, obviously, it’s better when I’m not keeping because I can afford to come up the order a bit more and my legs were probably a bit fresher than they would have been if I had been keeping.”
Reggie was probably not keeping because he does not expect to be available for Mashonaland Eagles for the entire season. He has signed a contract to play for an Australian club side from January through to the end of March. He will be playing for the Farleigh Magpies in Mackay, Queensland.
Further down the line, Reggie wants to play international cricket again, after being narrowly pushed out by Richmond Mutumbami this year.
“I’m not quite sure what cricket will be here over the winter,” he says. “But we will see what happens.”
Batting as he did in this match, Reggie is good enough to play for Zimbabwe as a specialist top-order batsman.
He certainly will be in the reckoning when South Africa and perhaps other teams arrive in the country during the winter, although his absence in Australia will lose him the opportunity of playing in the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 tournament.
At the age of 26, Reggie has an exciting future ahead of him.