Region’s cricketers shine

 

Harare- Southern African cricketers have been illuminating the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup with four batsmen from this region among the 10 highest run-scorers in the group stages of the global showcase in New Zealand and Australia.

Brendan Taylor chose his final innings for Zimbabwe to show he was a truly world-class batsman as he ended the group stages as Africa’s highest run-scorer, pushing South African superstars, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, into the shadows.

Taylor ended the six group games as the second highest run-scorer at the World Cup, behind Sri Lanka’s run-scoring machine, Kumar Sangakkara, and the best batsman in a Group B that featured heavyweights like India, South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies.

Sangakkara scored four straight centuries at the World Cup, the first cricketer to do that at this showcase.

South African skipper, de Villiers, widely acknowledged as the best batsman in the world, ended the group stages of the World Cup as the third highest run scorer while Sean Williams, the Zimbabwean all-rounder, was a huge revelation as he finished in sixth place.

Amla, the South African Test captain and one of the world’s finest batsmen, ended the group stages in ninth place.

The biggest star, though, among the African batsmen in the six group games of this World Cup, was Taylor, playing his last knock for Zimbabwe, before relocating to England to play county cricket for the next three years.

The 29-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman, who has been an international cricketer for 11 years, wrote to Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) advising them to cancel his contract, where he was the highest paid player, as he will not be available for the national team assignments.

Taylor was one of the stars who illuminated the World Cup, his swansong tournament for his country, and left the scene as the second highest scoring batsmen during the group phase of the tournament which ended on March 15 after one month of action across Australia and New Zealand.

He scored 433 runs in his six innings for Zimbabwe at this World Cup, bringing the curtain down with two centuries against Ireland and world champions India, and becoming the first player in the history of the game to bow out in such spectacular fashion.

Sadly, for Taylor, both centuries came in losing causes as Zimbabwe suffered a heart-breaking five-run loss to Ireland, which was highly controversial, while they crashed to a six-wicket loss against India after Hamilton Masakadza spilled a regulation catch that could have changed the course of the match.

“Sadly after 11 years I have decided to retire from ZC. My heart will always be close to my team mates and country,” Taylor tweeted.

“Thank you for your support.”

He said the 11 years he was an international cricketer were very special and provided memories that will last for a lifetime.

“It’s been fairly enjoyable, the 11 years that I’ve been extremely grateful for,” Taylor told his final World Cup media conference after the India game in Auckland.

“Every player’s dream is to represent their country and I’ve been lucky enough to do that.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision to make. Just in terms of finding a competitive team to go and play for, yes, international cricket has always been the pinnacle for me but it’s something I have discussed with my family and my wife and, after two, three months of doing that, I decided to go and play in England.

“I think all players tend to try and maximise a little bit, and when you have kids at home, you want to try and make sure they’ve got the best sort of upbringing that you can give them.

“That all sort of favoured the decision. It’s a three-year decision. I don’t think everything is lost after England, whether I continue to play on after those three years in England or come back to Zimbabwe.

“That’s all too far ahead. But I just want to go there and try and better myself as a cricketer, and at the end of the day, we’re all trying to provide for families, and to me that’s very important.”

Zimbabwe Cricket chief executive, Wilfred Mukondiwa, said they were hopeful that one day Taylor would return to play for his country again although, after three years in England, he will qualify to play for the English national team.

“We hope that your time with Zimbabwe Cricket did contribute towards your career development and that you will one day return to serve ZC in other capacities,” said Mukondiwa in a letter he sent to Taylor.

Taylor scored 433 runs at the World Cup, with his highest score coming against an Indian attack that bowled out all its six Group B opponents, when he scored 138 off 110 deliveries at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.

South African skipper de Villiers finished third on the run-scorers charts, in the group stages of the World Cup, after he scored 417 runs for his country.

His teammate, Amla, finished in ninth place after scoring 307 runs while Williams, the Zimbabwe all-rounder, was in sixth place after a fruitful World Cup outing with the bat, a big comeback for the player who was dropped from the national team ahead of the disastrous tour of Bangladesh where the Chevrons lost all their games.

Williams revealed he considered walking away from international cricket when he fell out with selectors ahead of the tour of Bangladesh.

March 2015
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