Cricket in Zimbabwe is seemingly going from strength to strength with the Southern Rocks franchise just completing an incredible double swoop by signing the former England fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom as well as that of the West Indies legend, Brian Lara for the Stanbic T-20 Championships starting at the Harare Sports Club next week.
Along with India’s Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara was for many years regarded as one of the best batsmen of his era. He retired after the 2007 World Cup and has not played that much competitive cricket since, but has had a spell with the unofficial Indian Cricket League in 2007-08, where to be honest he had a forgettable tournament with the bat and as captain of Mumbai Champs.
Ryan Sidebottom played 22 Tests, 25 ODIs and 18 Twenty20s for England, including the recent World Twenty20 triumph in the Caribbean, in an international career that spanned nine years before his international retirement in September.
Of the Zimbabwean sides, the Rocks have been the most active side in transfer dealings after a disappointing last season when they finished last in the Stanbic T-20 Championships, and failing to make any impact in the Met Bank Challenge and the Castle Logan Cup.
But they have shown serious intentions this time after securing national team wicket-keeper batsman Tatenda Taibu and Stuart Matsikenyere who both won the T-20 Championships with Mountaineers earlier this year.
They will however be without Sean Ervine as the former Zimbabwe national team all-rounder is switching to champions Mountaineers.
Givemore Makoni, the Rocks’ chief executive officer confirmed the Sidebottom and Lara signings, saying that his team would be mounting a serious challenge after roping in a wealth of experience in the form of the four players.
“It was a bad season the last time on but we have achieved good results in the competitions that have been played so far. In Bottom we signed a player who has proven himself on the big stage and with Lara we just have got ourselves the best batsman to grace the game of cricket.”
In this year’s tournament brochure Makoni declared: “This time Rocks come into the much awaited Stanbic T-20 ready to conquer. We have left no stone unturned in our preparations. With king Lara and speed merchant Sidebottom in your side, who can ever go wrong.”
Rocks start the campaign with a match against the Kwekwe Rhinos.
As well as these two great players, there have been a umber of other high profile signings in Zimbabwe, for the domestic competitions: Lou Vincent of New Zealand has also signed for Kwekwe’s Rhinos, joining Garry Balance at the Jason Gillespie-coached team.
Vincent adds to a Rhino’s squad that already has in its books national team opening batsman Brendan Taylor, seam bowler Edward Rainsford, Malcom Waller, Vusa Sibanda and Graeme Cremer, to mention a few.
Winners of the Logan Cup last season have been struggling to retain their form this year.
They have roped in veteran Grant Flower into their squad after Andrew Hall also joined Elton Chigumbura’s men.
But with Foster Mutizwa, Raymond Price and Greg Lamb in the fold, they should still mount a good challenge for the 20-over tournament.
The Eagles start their campaign with a match against Matabeleland Tuskers on November 14.
Have retained Charles Coventry, Sean Williams, Terry Duffin, Christopher Mpofu and Keegan Meth, among other notables, but loose Andy Blignaut from last season’s squad.
Zimbabwe Cricket Books
Where to Buy Blood, Sweat and Treason
Currently available in Hardcover it is available online through Amazon, in the UK and US
Zimbabwe Cricket Books
Amazon, have a bunch of Zim related cricket books, including "Blood, Sweat And Treason" by Henry Olonga, “A History of the Rhodesia and Zimbabwe National Sides” by Jonty Winch who traces the history of cricket in this country (Zimbabwe) from the first recorded game played in 1890, through two World Wars and a guerilla war, to the comparative peace of post-independence and eventual world recognition in the 1980s when Zimbabwe was able to send a side to England to take part in the I.C.C. Trophy competition which it won.
There is also the Autobiography of another great Zimbabwean cricket coach Duncan Fletcher “Behind the Shades”
At the moment Amazon UK don’t have as wide selection as the US site, but I have ordered books from the US and had them delivered to the UK with no problems.
Zimbabwe Cricket on Amazon.co.uk