April 5, 2000

John Vaughan-Davies - a short biography

FULL NAME: Matthew John Vaughan-Davies

BORN: 22 December 1980, at Harare

MAJOR TEAMS: CFX Academy (1999/2000)

KNOWN AS: John Vaughan-Davies. Nicknames: Butch, Squidge, John Boy.

BATTING STYLE: Left Hand Bat

BOWLING STYLE: Right Arm Medium Pace

OCCUPATION: CFX Academy student

FIRST-CLASS DEBUT: CFX Academy v Mashonaland, at Country Club, 3-5 March 2000

TEST DEBUT: Still awaited ODI DEBUT: Still awaited

BIOGRAPHY (March 2000)

John Vaughan-Davies is the only left-hander among the batsmen at the CFX Academy this year. Usefully, he likes to open the innings, although the Academy have tended to bat him at number three.

John's father 'Butch' and brother Jason both played cricket for Mashonaland Country Districts; his father still plays for the 'Golden Oldies' team and umpires, while Jason has been a regular for Alexandra Sports Club for several seasons. He enjoyed a good upbringing in the game, like so many others, with family cricket in the garden when he was young. John grew up on a farm in Raffingora, in the Mashonaland Country Districts, until two years ago they moved to Enterprise, just outside Harare.

John attended Ruzawi junior school near Marondera, well known for its cricketing tradition, where he started playing cricket in Grade 3. He played for the colts team until Grade 5, when he first played for the school first team. He used to bat and keep wicket, but back trouble later caused him to give up behind the stumps. He cannot remember his best junior school performances, but he represented Mashonaland East for two years at the national primary schools cricket week.

At high school, Lomagundi College, he did well enough to represent Mashonaland Country Districts at each age-group level, but never actually made the national side. His highest score for Lomagundi was 125 against the visiting English team Clapham at the annual Prince Edward School festival. He opened the batting and captained the school for his final two years; his team were unbeaten both years, the highlights of which were victories over the renowned Falcon College, the powerhouse of schools cricket.

At the age of about 15 John began to play for Ayrshire in the Mashonaland winter cricket league; as they were short of bowlers, he took up bowling seriously and used to open with the new ball, bowl his ten overs and then take over as wicket-keeper for the rest of the innings. He scored several fifties and his highest score for them was 86. "It was quite tough being a youngster and playing with all the experienced guys," he says. "But I learnt a lot from them so it was a big advantage to be there. And I could play cricket all the year round, school cricket, then winter league and back to school cricket." John also began to bowl in school cricket, and remembers taking six or seven wickets in one match. His bowling did at first affect his back, but after slowing down his pace and developing a more upright action he had no more trouble.

He first played club cricket in Harare during the 1998/99 season, following Jason to Alexandra Sports Club. He began playing for the club's third team and moved his way up to the first team. He has scored just one fifty for the club so far.

Leaving school at the end of 1999, he came straight into the CFX Academy. His friend Greg Lamb was a contemporary of his at Lomagundi, and Greg had left school a year earlier to join the Academy, and he encouraged John to apply for a place for 2000. Further encouragement came from the Academy director Gwynne Jones, who spoke about the Academy to the school-leavers at the schoolboy national trials. Since joining he has benefited greatly from the coaching of Shane Cloete 'who has had the most influence on me'.

John made his first-class debut for the Academy in the Logan Cup and recorded a first-class fifty against Manicaland in Mutare when opening the innings, the highlight of his year so far. In a practice match at the start of the year against a Mashonaland Select XI, he was surprised to be called on to bowl by the Academy captain Mluleki Nkala, and he took five wickets with his little seamers.

John is a good cutter and driver, while recently he has learned to pull, especially on the fast but true Astroturf nets at the Academy. As a bowler his stock ball is the away-swinger, but he has recently learned the inswinger as a variation, as well as a slower ball from the back of the hand that cuts away. He can field anywhere, but actually enjoys fielding at short leg under a helmet. "At school I was a hockey goal-keeper and got used to playing with a helmet in close situations," he says.

John is preparing for his first spell of cricket overseas; he had arranged to play for Kilmarnock, Scotland, but his first-class matches for the Academy put paid to that, as their league does not allow them to play first-class players. Instead he has managed to finalise arrangements with Caterham in Surrey.

Cricket heroes: "Sachin Tendulkar inspires me, the way he bats. Bowlers, Heath Streak or Henry Olonga - I like to see them in action."

Toughest opponents: "It was quite difficult to get Neil Ferreira out; he made a hundred against us. Doug Marillier was very good. Mark Burmester was the most difficult bowler I faced; he's very experienced. Craig Evans' dibbly-dobblers were very hard to get away, especially on a flat track. Paul Strang I think is a great bowler; Dan Peacock."

Immediate ambitions: "I want to go as far as I can, but if I don't make it as a player I'll probably go into coaching. I enjoy coaching kids. I want to stay in cricket as much as I can. I hope to make the Zimbabwe B side sometime, but I'm looking in long-term now, after my three years at the Academy, if I haven't reached the standard I hope to have reached I think I'll probably play my cricket elsewhere. The money is probably better in England."

Proudest achievement: "Definitely captaining my school side for two years in a row and being unbeaten. Going on a tour down south and being unbeaten there as well."

Best friends in cricket: "Greg Lamb, Travis Friend, Rich Sims. A lot of guys here are from my school so they're all my mates. I really get on well with everyone in the Academy. Also Gav Rennie from the Mashonaland side and Doug Marillier from Midlands. They play for Alex, so that's how I got to know them."

Other qualifications: Diploma in secretarial work. "I'm actually quite proud of it because some guys can't type or anything, so I think it's quite a big advantage. I did it in my last year at school and then I got A-levels."

Other sports: At school, first-team tennis, hockey and rugby. At hockey, Zimbabwe Under-18.

Other interests: "I enjoy to shoot a bit, fish a bit."