MOUNTAINEERS are the new Logan Cup champions. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure that three-time defending champions, Tuskers, would struggle in this season’s competition after more than half their side did not renew their contracts. On the Crease takes a look at the season and the best performers.
Mountaineers have been among the most competitive sides in the country.
They are powered by arguably the best performing local player, Hamilton Masakadza.
They also have reliable skipper Tinotenda Mawoyo and were able somehow to attract two foreign players without funding from Zimbabwe Cricket.
Donald Tiripano is probably the most underrated of the cricketers in the country.
He has been a constant in the franchise side and ended the season as the top wicket taker.
Mountaineers had a brilliant season in which their only blemish was a tie otherwise they would have won all their matches.
They had a massive 43 points, 12 clear of second-placed Eagles.
The overseas-based players provided the much-needed experience when they lost their national players to the World Cup.
Masakadza was their top runscorer despite missing half the games while on national duty. He amassed 433 runs in four matches with a top score of 156 and an average of 51.
Mawoyo had 403 at an average of 40.
The individual performances show that Mountaineers had a more rounded team performance as shown by the fact that not many of their players feature in the top five of wickets and runs.
National fringe player Regis Chakabva was the top scorer with 588 runs at an average of 84.
His top score was a record franchise score of 240.
Mark Vermeulen who has played for all the franchises in the country, except the Rocks, was a close second with 580 runs at 64.
To look at the consistency of a batsman’s performance, I like to subtract the highest score and then average out the rest of his matches.
Case in point is Vusi Sibanda who has 366 runs at an average of 61, but 217 of those came in one innings.
If you apply that method, you will find he only averaged 29 for the rest of the season.
Brian Chari was the best Tuskers player coming in at nine on the list with 381 and a top score of 116.
This was one of the problems with Tuskers as their top player averaged just 23 with the bat.
They really struggled and were bowled out on more than one occasion in less than two sessions — no way to defend the Logan Cup.
The bowling was very different. Tuskers had two of the top three wicket takers and it is difficult to comprehend how they won just two matches.
John Nyumbu, who over the years was described as a shorter version bowler due to his inability to genuinely turn the ball, shut his detractors up once and for all.
He finished the season with 34 wickets, only losing out on the top spot because Tiripano had a better average, 19,14 to his 22.
Remember as a bowler the lower the average the better, unlike in batting.
Returning Tawanda Mupariwa showed he is still a class act and cannot be very far from making a return to the national team. He was third on the list with 32 wickets at a very impressive 16,43.
Brain Vitori was even better as he took 27 wickets at just 15,22.
The season was shortened considerably due to the players strike and playing that much first-class cricket in that time, could not have been good on the players. Some of the players have already taken to the skies to play for teams overseas and I am very concerned about player burnout.
On the field of play because of the chaos leading up to the season, a lot of inexperienced young players were given an opportunity which they might not have had for the next five years. As always, some grabbed it with both hands and others dropped it like a hot potato.
The young players that give hope that there just might be a future in the sport for the country are led by Rocks’ keeper and skipper Richmond Mutumbami.
The young man, unlucky not to make the World Cup party scored 470 runs at 58,7 and a top score of 123. The other promising talent is Under-19 World Cup player Luke Jongwe.
He also turned out for the Rocks and looks a bright prospect with both bat and ball. He had 247 runs at an average of 27 and took 13 wickets at 42.
Tuskers’ Nkosana Mpofu had an encouraging start to first-class cricket with 309 runs at 28.
The future might just be bright as another Masakadza and Maruma were presented to the world, Wellington and Tendai respectively.
The two young players looked like seasoned professionals and got the cricketing brains in the country to stand up and take notice.
Do not be surprised if the next training squad includes a Wellington Masakadza. What can I say, it runs in the family.
On the Crease hopes the problems around this Logan Cup will be ironed out and next season we could see the likes of Glen Querl back in the picture.
This week’s letter is “U” for underarm; a throw from close to the target that does not require the throwing hand to rotate above the shoulder.