December 9, 2000

Club cricket Report

Universals hammer Alex

Everton Matambanadzo turned in a fine all-round performance in the Castle Lager National First League to propel Universals to a shock 143- run defeat of the in-form Alexandra Cricket Club on Sunday. Alex have swept virtually all opposition aside this season in both the national and provincial league matches, but were single-handedly destroyed by Matambanadzo who finally found the form which propelled him into international cricket a few seasons ago.

After top scoring with a belligerent half-century to boost his side's total to 230/9 off 50 overs, Matambanadzo decimated the Alex top order with the new ball to claim 5/5 off five overs. New-ball partner David Mutendera added to the Alex collapse with three top-order wickets including the prize scalp of in-form batsman Andy Blignaut for a duck. With 7 wickets down and only 20 runs on the board, Alex faced an uphill task, and despite some resistance from Brian Bath and Craig Anticevitch Alex faded to 87 all out. Earlier in the day, veteran Ali Shah, called out of a short-lived retirement, anchored the Universals innings with 68 well-compiled runs in heavy conditions and a slow outfield following heavy rain the previous day.

The victory was a welcome relief for Universals who have battled to find consistency in their play this season despite a strong side on paper, and they will hope to continue with this form for the rest of the season. Conversely, for Alex, the resounding defeat will be a major blow, and they will be looking for a vast improvement for next weekend's vital home fixture against the dangerous Old Georgians.

At Eaglesvale School the Bulawayo side Queens Sports Club romped to their first victory in the national league this season against the young Winstonians side. With conditions again suiting the fielding side, Winstonians battled for runs with star batsmen Stuart Matsikenyere and Hamilton Masakadza both missing due to injuries. The match was reduced to 45 overs per side after the start was delayed due to a wet outfield, and the experienced new ball pairing of John Rennie and "Pommie" Mbangwa ensured a slow start for Winstonians and the brothers Engelbrecht also bowled superbly to pin down the middle order. After 44.3 overs Winstonians could only muster 130 all out, leaving the visitors requiring less than three runs per over for victory. After losing two early wickets, Queens settled down and cruised to victory with 17 overs to spare and seven wickets in hand, Ian Engelbrecht competing a half century to compliment his three wickets earlier.

In Kwekwe the newly promoted home side were outplayed by Harare Sports Club. Batting first the visitors complied a healthy 267/4 in 50 overs with all of top order batsmen contributing. Opener Brad Taylor was run out for 59 and Eddo Brandes finally contributed with bat, smashing an unbeaten 68. For Kwekwe Raymond Price was the most successful bowler taking 2/38 off 10 overs and Colin Saunders was extremely economical conceding only 23 runs in his 10 overs. Douglas Hondo had his figures decimated by Brandes and he eventually conceded 84 runs off 10 overs.

In pursuit of 268 to win off 50 overs, Kwekwe were immediately in trouble when promising quick bowler Brighton Watambwa grabbed three early wickets, and despite another half century from former national Test star Dave Houghton and a slightly redeeming 32 from Hondo, the home side never threatened victory and succumbed to 179 all out in the last over. Spinners Paul Brous and Gavin Johnson-Robertson bowled tightly and Brandes was virtually impossible to score off with the new ball, conceding just 9 runs off his five overs.

The match between Old Georgians and Old Hararians was called off due to a waterlogged field at Groombridge which is notorious for poor drainage.

Similarly the match between Mutare and Mac Club was also abandoned due to unsuitable playing conditions.

Next week's fixtures :

Alex vs Old Georgians
Queens vs Old Hararians
HSC vs Universals
Mutare vs Winstonians
Mac Club vs Kwekwe