Full Name: Eddo Andre Brandes

Born: 5 March 1963, Port Shepstone (Natal)

Major teams: Zimbabwe (since 1985), Mashonaland Country Districts (1994/95-1995/96), Mashonaland (1996/97-).

Present club team: Universals

Known as: Eddo Brandes

Batting Style: Right Hand Bat

Bowling Style: Right Arm Fast Medium

Occupation: Chicken farmer

Test Debut: Inaugural Test v India, at Harare Sports Club, 1992/93

ODI Debut: 10 October 1987, v India, Hyderabad (World Cup)

Biography (December 1996)

Eddo Brandes has been the spearhead of Zimbabwe's bowling attack for over ten years, and is now, at the age of 33, fitter and bowling perhaps better than ever before. Despite the presence of several promising young pace bowlers, Eddo is determined to continue to play a leading part in the Zimbabwean team, and his skill and experience have kept him in the selectors' minds.

Eddo was born in Port Shepstone, on the southern coast of Natal, but shortly afterwards his father, a farmer, moved to Rhodesia, as it then was, to work on a sugar estate near Triangle in the Lowveld. Although his father was not an active cricketer, he did shoot for this country. Eddo attended Murray McDougall Primary School at Triangle, and played cricket there; he was inspired to take more interest in the game by the visits of national cricketer Brian Davison to coach while he was in Standard 3 (Grade 5). He both batted and bowled and, although in adult cricket his bowling has taken precedence, he has always been a potentially dangerous batsman against all but the fastest bowlers or the highest quality spinners. He was selected for the Partridges, the national primary schools team, in 1975. He moved on to Fort Victoria (now Masvingo) High School from 1976 to 1979, representing the Fawns, the national under-15 team, in 1978. In his second year there he recorded his first century, in an inter-school match. He moved on to Prince Edward School in Harare from 1980 to 1982, where he was also a boarder, and played for the Zimbabwe Schools team in 1982.

After leaving school, he attended Pietermaritzburg University to study agricultural manage-ment; he also played cricket for the university, but his studies probably delayed his coming to prominence in Zimbabwe cricket. He made steady progress without any spectacular performances in Harare league cricket during the vacations and, with the selectors looking for a strike bowler to replace Peter Rawson, unavailable for the 1985 tour of England, he did well enough to be chosen. It took place during the university vacation, but he enjoyed little success. On his return to Harare the following year, he played for Old Hararians, the Prince Edward old boys' club, and worked to start with in a furniture shop, fortunately with an employer who was kind enough to allow him plenty of time off to play cricket. He was soon opening the bowling with Peter Rawson, and once again Zimbabwe had a bowling attack with real fire-power.

Eddo really made his name in the season of 1986/87. After two unsuccessful outings against powerful Young West Indies team, he tore into their batsmen in the third match with his first five-wicket haul, after removing Phil Simmons and John Charles for 17. Unfortunately poor Zimbabwe batting resulted in a heavy defeat. Against Pakistan B he was the dominant bowler on either side, taking 17 wickets in three matches. His pace and hostility complemented Rawson well, although at this stage of his career he concentrated mainly on raw pace and was criticised for too much short-pitched bowling; he did not have extreme pace by world standards and the placid home pitches often resulted in the bumper being a wasted ball. As Eddo developed, he would slow his pace a little, pitch the ball up more readily and develop the skills of movement, becoming a more complete bowler in the process. He found Rawson a great help and encouragement in his development as a bowler, and also particularly mentions the support of such other players as Dave Houghton, John Traicos and Robin Brown.

In 1988/89, Eddo wrote his way into the record books by becoming the first (and to date still the only) Zimbabwean bowler ever to record a first-class hat-trick. This came against Bert Vance's New Zealand Young Internationals, when he changed the course of the match by first dismissing Gavin Larsen hit wicket, after a major partnership, and then immediately having Tony Blain caught and Mark Priest lbw.

After that season, Peter Rawson emigrated to Natal and Eddo found himself Zimbabwe's sole strike bowler. He had at times been forced to bowl long spells in the past due to the team's limited bowling resources, but now he frequently found himself over-bowled. At times this proved counter-productive, as he sustained injuries and missed important matches. Another important factor was his decision to go into business himself and take up chicken farming in 1992, just before Zimbabwe gained Test status. Out at Ruwa, just east of Harare, he found it increasingly difficult to spend enough time in training and practice.

Eddo has received considerable criticism for his injury problems, and he understandably resents them. He admits that he has not always been fully fit, but points out that this often proved impossible with his very time-consuming business. He went into chicken farming before professional cricket had taken root in Zimbabwe, and his foremost responsibility was to get his business established, which involved working very long hours and financial problems, as it was difficult to borrow money. He had to do all the administrative work single-handed and it was not always possible to find the time or energy that he wanted to play cricket in the peak of condition.

However, he remained Zimbabwe's number one strike bowler when the country attained Test status in 1992. After Zimbabwe had run up 456 against India in the inaugural Test, the team looked to Eddo as its main strike bowler. Unfortunately, after bowling only two overs he injured his ankle so seriously that umpire Dickie Bird thought it was broken, and he was unable to play any further part in the match. Fortunately, John Traicos rose to the occasion with five wickets, enabling Zimbabwe to lead on first innings. And Eddo recovered in time to play in the New Zealand Test at Harare three weeks later, when he took four wickets. He also took 13 wickets in Pakistan the following year, but by now the increasing workload of international cricket was taking its toll.

Injured early the following season, he was omitted when fit again from matches against the touring Sri Lankans, and looked a doubtful choice for the tour of Australia for the World Series Cup. While Zimbabwe were playing the one-day series against Sri Lanka, Eddo had been relegated to the Zimbabwe Board team to play Griqualand West in Kimberley. He rose to the occasion superbly. He pulverised the Griquas attack for 165 not out, including 10 sixes and 15 fours, and then ripped out seven Griqua batsmen in the first innings. Two more wickets in the second innings left him just one short of a rare match double of 100 runs and 10 wickets in the same match, previously achieved only by Percy Mansell from this country. This made his trip to Australia certain; unfortunately, another breakdown in Australia saw him return home early.

Prior to his century, Eddo had generally failed to do his batting justice at first-class level. His only previous first-class fifty was an outstanding innings of 94 against the touring county side Glamorgan in 1990/91; he arrived at the crease with Zimbabwe struggling on 65 for six, and then shared a stand of 147 with the young Alistair Campbell, who went on to his maiden first-class century.

Since then, he has never been certain of his place in the Zimbabwean team. However, with his chicken farm now established, he is still determined to play a major role in international cricket. He is fitter and bowling better than he has been for years, and fine bowling on unhelpful pitches in Logan Cup matches has regained him a place in the national squad, when so many people had written him off.

His most memorable match, Eddo thinks, was the 1992 World Cup victory over England, where Eddo himself was man of the match with four prime wickets for 21. England needed a mere 135 to win, but Eddo, who bowled his ten overs on the trot, dismissed Graham Gooch lbw first ball, and then in quick succession removed Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and his former school-mate Graeme Hick, the last two with off-cutters that went through the gate. This set up a magnificent nine-run Zimbabwean victory.

Andy Flower says, "Eddo is actually fitter than I have seen him for a long time, so we can hardly say he's coming to the end of his career. As fast bowlers go, he is getting on a bit, but he is bowling really well and I'm certain that he'll be opening the bowling with Heath Streak against England. He's bowling quick again and swinging the ball away from the batsman."

Dave Houghton says, "Eddo is looking as good as ever; he's looking fit and lean, so if we get a few good spells out of him we've got a really good bowling combination."