A NEW-LOOK Tuskers took to the field against Mountaineers this last week and pulled off a victory against a team boasting no less than six national team players. South Africa levelled the series against Australia as expected creating a flat deck to counter the Mitchell Johnson factor.
How refreshing to be writing from the Queens pavilion once again, watching first-class cricket.
Defending Logan Cup Champions Tuskers took to the field with a new-look outfit and chief executive officer Stanley Staddon said after winning the Logan Cup three times it was time for a change.
Tuskers for all their good work, had been viewed as one of the franchises doing little to promote the next generation.
However, the side that took on the might of the Mountaineers was in complete contrast to that and the fact that they won raised many eyebrows, hopefully the national selectors had their eyes opened as well.
Tuskers for various reasons had to do battle without many of the household names that had served them well in the past — last season skipper, Gavin Ewing, Sean and Craig Ervine, Keegan Meth, Christopher Mpofu, Glen Querl and Njabulo Ncube.
The team had to reshuffle the batting around new captain and only player from the region deemed good enough for national team selection — Sean Williams. Keith Dabengwa is the other experienced player in the batting line.
All rounder Tawanda Mupariwa completed the line up of players with international experience. The team shocked all and sundry to hold on for a famous win against a team with six World Cup players and two very good overseas professionals.
Tuskers defended 227 runs to win by 10 runs with a spirited all-round performance.
There will be no better time for the likes of Nkosana Mpofu, Godwill Mahmiyo and Milton High School prodigy Bruce Sibanda to show their skills to take their cricket to the next level.
These boys have been on the fringe of selection and now have been cast into the deep end and it is sink or swim for them.
There is also a second coming for former Zim A players John Nyumbu and Bonaparte Mujuru who should play major roles in the new-look team this season.
Steve Chimamhiwa and Thabo Mboyi will also get an opportunity to prove their skills with the leather in hand.
The team passed its first test at home with honours after a disappointing loss in their first game in Masvingo which seems many light years ago.
The real battle will come in the longer version of the game as the young talented team will be put under serious pressure.
It is currently the end of Day two and they are 162-3 in reply to Mountaineers 430 in the first innings.
So far so good, but what will have the coaching staff pulling out their hair, and some have precious little to spare, are the number of chances they presented to their opponents.
Tuskers put down no less than eight regulation catches and now have to chase probably double what they would have, had it not been for their butter-fingered display.
There has been a lot of unhappiness raised in the cricketing circles with the announcement of the World Cup squad.
I will leave people to draw their conclusions on that, but all I can say is the same rules should apply to everyone.
On the Crease knows one of the senior batsman had a horrid time at the “trials”, but was picked on the strength of his experience.
The goal posts where shifted to the other side of the field when a certain leg spinner was included for the good form he showed at the same trials.
Let us hope the selection does not come back to bite us. People must now be mature enough to pick players on the basis of what they can deliver on the field of play and nothing else.
Michael Clarke stirred the pot when he arrived in South Africa and claimed to have the best bowling attack in the world. I agreed with Clarke, but he forgot to add If the conditions suit them”.
Port Elizabeth presented a different challenge and the South Africans outbowled the Aussies by the preverbal country mile.
Dale Steyn was amazing once the ball started to reverse swing.
The Aussies had no answer for quick, late swinging deliveries. Morne Morkel also put aside his “nice guy” image and let the Aussies have it with some really aggressive fast bowling.
When a team is winning it is difficult to pick out any cracks in their armour, but I warned you of the brittle batting from Down Under.
The fact that the team is still not sure who to bat at number three speaks volumes of the inconsistency of their batters. The Test series is evenly balanced heading into Cape Town.
Anyone who follows cricket religiously will remember that last time the Aussies played under the shadow of Table Mountain, they were 49 all out. It should be fun and games from this Saturday.
On the Crease will like to indict Wayne Parnell and New Zealand’s Adam Milne to the over 150km/h club. Cricket is more interesting with genuinely quick bowling.