March 29, 2002

Neeten Chouhan: a biography

FULL NAME: Neeten Chouhan
BORN: At Harare, 3 April 1983
MAJOR TEAMS: Mashonaland A (2000/01), CFX Academy (2001/02). Present club side: Universals
KNOWN AS: Neeten Chouhan. Nickname: Chewy
BOWLING STYLE: Right Arm Leg Breaks and Googles
OCCUPATION: CFX Academy student

FIRST-CLASS DEBUT: 23-25 March 2001, Mashonaland A v Midlands, at Kwekwe Sports Club
TEST DEBUT: Still awaited
ODI DEBUT: Still awaited

BIOGRAPHY (March 2002)

Neeten Chouhan, the often dogged opening batsman for the CFX Academy in 2002, may have an equally bright future as a leg-spinner, in the opinion of Academy coach Dave Houghton. Neeten has a tendency to bowl inaccurately, which Houghton puts down to lack of practice over the last few years, but he has the ability to spin the ball sharply and bowl the odd virtually unplayable delivery.

Neeten has the benefit of a keen cricketing parent, as his father Nick has been a Mashonaland Cricket Union administrator for years, having been a player himself in the past at social level. Other members of the family, according to Neeten, have been enthusiastic as spectators rather than players. Nick first introduced Neeten to the game in the back yard of their home when he was very young, and this was reinforced at junior school. He first played for Selborne Routledge Primary School colts in Harare when in Grade 3, but then moved to Sharon School.

At the age of about 10 he remembers scoring 64 in one match, and in another taking six wickets, although this was bowling seamers rather than leg-spin. He only turned to leg-spin at high school, when his conversion was by accident: he says his team was short of a spinner, so he gave it a try and picked up five wickets.

He played for the Harare primary schools team in the national inter-provincial festival before graduating to Prince Edward High School. He was in the A team for each age-group until graduating to the first team in Form Four, where he finished his school career as captain. He was selected for the national Under-16 team, and Mashonaland sides at all age levels, captaining that side in his final year at school. He also went on a Zimbabwe development tour to Kenya in 2000. He played primarily as a batsman, usually at four or five, but he was moved to open the batting during his last two years at school. He did not enjoy great success in these matches.

His best batting performance was 104 not out for the school first team against Watershed School, followed by 101 against Eaglesvale, and took nine wickets with his leg-spin in a match against Plumtree. While still at school he made his first-class debut for Mashonaland A against Midlands at Kwekwe, but without success. He left school at the end of 2001 and won a place in the CFX Academy.

He started playing club cricket for Sunrise, the predominantly Indian sports club in Harare, but they were in the third league and he had set his sights higher. He moved to the Prince Edward old boys' club, Old Hararians, for two years, but was unable to break into their first team regularly, so he moved again to Universals `to get a better chance'.

He opened the innings for the Academy in the Logan Cup, although he prefers the middle order. He showed the ability to concentrate and play a long innings, but has not yet found the freedom to develop his strokeplay. He feels his straight drives are his best strokes. As a bowler he feels his main strength is in his ability to spin the ball sharply, and he has the googly and top-spinner to add to his normal leg-break. He usually fields in the cover area, although the Academy also uses him at short leg.

He feels the coaches who have had the greatest influences on his career have been George Lee-Bell, coach at Prince Edward during his time there, and Bill Flower.

Cricket heroes: Damien Martyn and Neil McKenzie, as he enjoys their style of play. "Obviously Shane Warne."

Toughest opponents: Bowler - Henry Olonga.

Personal ambitions: "Obviously to play for Zimbabwe, before the age of 23. Battingwise I want to average around 45 in Logan Cup."

Proudest achievement so far: "Becoming Mashonaland A captain and getting into the Academy."

Best friends in cricket: Conan Brewer.

Other qualifications: A-levels, degree in computers.

Other sports: Tennis for Mashonaland at Under-12 level, hockey for Mashonaland in 2001.

Outside interests: "Watching TV!"