This week’s Logan Cup matches are on from Tuesday 22 to Friday 25 January. At Kwekwe Sports Club: Mid-West Rhinos versus Mashonaland Eagles, At Masvingo Sports Club: Southern Rocks v Matabeleland Tuskers, Starting time: 1000 hours.
The first of the season’s franchise competitions has been decided, when last Saturday Mashonaland Eagles beat Matabeleland Tuskers on the Duckworth-Lewis to win the Pro50 Championship, at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
This is ironic and in a sense scarcely fair, as Matabeleland Tuskers topped the league table and Mashonaland Eagles should not have been in the final anyway, but for a fatal error by the second-placed Mid-West Rhinos who played Peter Moor in a match while omitting to check whether the latter’s change of franchise from Mashonaland Eagles had been officially registered with Zimbabwe Cricket.
Matabeleland Tuskers won five matches to Mashonaland Eagles’ three, so it was less than fair that they should lose in the final. However, Tuskers were the beneficiaries of a similar situation two years ago when they won a Logan Cup final against Mountaineers after having a much inferior record.
They have only themselves to blame for losing the Pro50 final, however, as they had scored 138 for the first wicket – with their captain Gavin Ewing playing superbly for 94 – in pursuit of a target of 223, only for the rest of the batting to collapse dismally.
Mashonaland Eagles will be given a great boost by their fortuitous success, and will be looking to turn around their Logan Cup fortunes with greater confidence, after losing their first four matches. However, with rain about, they will need both outstanding play and luck with the weather to haul themselves off the bottom of the table because the other teams have won at least two matches each.
Eagles will face an aggrieved Mid-West Rhinos at Kwekwe this week. There will be no ill-feeling between the teams, but both will enter the match with great determination.
Southern Rocks will face Matabeleland Tuskers at home with little chance of pulling off an upset against the reigning champions, who will also be feeling aggrieved at having lost the Pro50 final. But that chance is always there and the underdogs do have some confidence after their surprise wins against Mashonaland Eagles and Mountaineers this season.
Overall, though, there is a good chance that the rain will win both these matches, but there is still scope for much good cricket.
After the announcement of the provisional squad for the tour of the West Indies next month, those named will want to press home their claims for final selection, while those who just missed it will want to make a very strong point to the national selectors.
It is with great sadness that Zimbabwe Cricket has learnt of the passing of Life Vice President, David Lewis. He passed away in Johannesburg aged 85.
He captained the Rhodesia/ZImbabwe side for almost a decade and in 73 matches for his country he scored 3254 runs at 30.69 including eight hundreds.
After retiring he remained in the game as an administrator, president of the Zimbabwe board and was eventually awarded the honorary title of Life Vice President, a prestige he shared with Life Presidents David Ellman-Brown and Alwyn Pichanik and Life Vice Presidents Don Arnott and Bryan Thorne.
Although Hamilton Masakadza has become a well-known figure in international cricket over the last ten years, his younger brother (by three years), Shingi, is on the verge of making a name for himself too on the big stage. Shingi is developing into a genuine all-rounder, a bowler of considerable pace who can bat, and his form this season seems to show that he is getting better all the time.
Shingi’s path to international cricket has been very different from that of his brother. His first real contact with the game was at Mbizi Primary School, following in the footsteps of Hamilton, at the age of about eight. Stephen Mangongo was his first coach, as has been the case with numerous other first-class players in this country. Unfortunately, when Hamilton’s year left for high school, interest in the game within the school faded, and Shingi rather lost interest at the age of about ten. This prevented him from gaining a cricket scholarship to Churchill School, as Hamilton had done, and instead he progressed to Kutama High School.
There was no cricket at Kutama, but Shingi says that he and some other pupils helped to start the game there and became part of the Zimbabwe Cricket development programme, which helped to establish a cricket structure for them at Kutama. This was when he was about sixteen, and he played in a few matches for the school. He did well enough to play for Midlands Under-19s in his final year there, and the following year for Mashonaland Under-19s – although he had now left school, he was still eligible. In those days he was a top-order batsman who bowled occasional leg-spin.
After this, though, Shingi again left cricket and went to play professional soccer. He played a year for Dynamos, and then for Chitungwiza, now known as Eagles. Then he heard again from his old coach, Stephen Mangongo. “He’s the one who called me back,” says Shingi, “and he said, ‘Listen, I still feel you’ve got talent and I’m sure you would be better off playing cricket.’ That’s when I started bowling seam, because I was bowling medium, and he just came to me and said, ‘Perhaps if you just ran in a bit more and hit the deck harder, I’m sure you could be successful.’ And there you are!”
With Stephen’s guidance, Shingi was soon playing for Takashinga Sports Club and Zimbabwe B, going straight into the squad, and then Stephen called on him to join the Manicaland team. “Before I know it I was playing first-class matches here in Mutare.” Shingi also pays tribute to the other coaches at Masvingo, Givemore Makoni, Elvis Sembezeya, Emmanuel Dube and Shepherd Makunura, who all helped to guide him towards his present and future success. “What has also helped me has been that I’m brother to Hamilton and he’s been there for me in terms of talking to me about the game. So I learnt about the game at a high level a bit quicker, because I had someone to guide me through all that.”
Shingi feels his main strength as a bowler is his pace, although he will need more than this to make a real impact at the highest level. “Now I’ve started to do quite a bit with the ball. I can now swing it both ways, which is something I worked on during this pre-season. I move it off the pitch as well, but predominantly away-swing.” He considers himself more of a swing bowler, but he can also use the seam.
Shingi’s performances in international cricket have been very mixed, but he has had some fine moments as well as setbacks. What does he consider the best performance of his career to date? “It will definitely come down to my [ODI] debut against West Indies, when I was given the ball to defend 15 runs in the last over. The first two balls didn’t go too well because I got hit for six and four. But then I came back well to grab the win. Then Nikita Miller took one and went off strike, and then I bowled Dwayne Smith. When it was left to four runs from three balls I took Sulieman Benn out, and the next ball I bowled a good yorker, straight in the blockhole, and they only ran one. We ended up winning by two runs. That was very memorable.”
One of the greatest factors in favour of selecting Shingi for any team is that a tight situation so often brings the best out of him. Only a month after this, early in 2010, Mountaineers were playing Mid-West Rhinos in the final of the 50-over competition, and the team had collapsed to 66 for seven, chasing a target of only 145. Enter Shingi to join Prosper Utseya. While the older player kept his end up, Shingi played himself in sensibly and then began to attack. He finished with 41 not out as Mountaineers romped home without losing a further wicket.
Later in the same year he almost won another game for Zimbabwe out of nowhere. Zimbabwe, chasing Ireland’s total of 244, were 164 for nine. Shingi and Iain Nicolson put on 60 together for the last wicket before Iain was out, leaving Shingi unbeaten on 45.He also has a first-class century to his credit, 100 not out exactly, made against Southern Rocks at Mutare in 2009/10. Two matches earlier he recorded his best first-class bowling performance of six for 54 against Mid-West Rhinos.
Last season was rather a lean one for Shingi. He was a member of the national squad, which meant he was not often available to play in the domestic teams, but neither was he a regular in the national side, which meant he suffered from a shortage of match practice. He was thrilled to be selected for the World Cup, but he had some chastening experiences there, lacking the raw pace or accuracy needed to trouble the world’s greatest batsmen. He feels this experience, harsh though it was at times, was a turning point for him. “It’s every cricket player’s dream, to represent your country at the World Cup, against all the other big guns, so it’s a great feeling. You can only get better through experience.”
“But it’s all coming back now,” he says of the current season, which he has started in prime form. “It’s probably more to due with experience. I’ve played for a while now and I’ve learnt quite a few things in the game. I’ve started to incorporate those things in my game and it’s all working out, so you could probably say I’m a better bowler now than I was before, in terms of maturity and skill.”
Shingi was not chosen to play against Bangladesh or Pakistan, but if his present run of form continues, he is likely to be called up again soon. The irony is that, although he has improved his game, other young pacemen like Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis and Keegan Meth have shot through and earned the eye of the selectors, while there are others waiting in the wings. In Shingi’s favour is his batting skill and his proven ability to rise to the occasion in a crisis. In a tight finish there are few better players than Shingi to see his side home. He is a man for the occasion, and there will almost certainly be many of this to come in his future.
Another poor batting performance by Mid-West Rhinos batting first left them with a small total to defend against Southern Rocks, but they were saved by the rain, which came on between innings and put an end to the match. The Masvingo team were very disappointed to be denied a likely victory by the weather after a good performance in the field.
Southern Rocks won the toss and followed the virtually obligatory custom of putting the opposition in to bat. Brendan Taylor and Gary Ballance made a fair start but, just as Taylor (11) was getting going he turned a ball from Brian Vitori, back at last after injury, to midwicket and was out when the score was 20. Riki Wessels looked the biggest danger to Southern Rocks as from the start he laid about him with a will, while Ballance played very much second fiddle. Ballance had scored 8 out of 48, having had little of the strike, when he felt obliged to get moving, but was caught by the keeper off a skier. The most crucial moment came when Wessels, with 34 off 29 balls, threw his wicket away, trying an unnecessary reverse sweep and sending an easy catch; he walked off furious with himself. After this the Mid-West Rhinos innings went into steady decline, although Malcolm Waller (18) and Graeme Cremer (23) began well but failed to finish. The final total was only 131 for seven, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi (two for 17) and Shane Burger (two for 14) returning good figures off their four overs each.
Minutes after the players left the field, the rain started, and soon was so heavy as to make it obvious further play was impossible. Southern Rocks had good reason to feel aggrieved; a victory for them was not assured, but the odds were perhaps better than two to one in their favour.