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November 21, 2010
Grant Flower came back to Zimbabwe after a fruitful final season for Essex that saw the county hold their own in the limited-overs competition but crash out in the semi-finals of both the Friends Provident t20 and the Clydesdale Bank 40 all the same.
On Sunday in Harare, he made amends as captain of the Mashonaland Eagles as they secured the Stanbic Bank 20 Series title. While nothing has been officially confirmed and there remains a possibility that Flower could play his final game in Zimbabwe, rather than Mashonaland, colours, there were more than a few hints that this might be the last time he would be seen on the field in a competitive match.
Flower was given a guard of honour as he left the field during the innings break - despite the fact that he hadn't faced a ball with Hall on strike throughout his time at the wicket - and suggested after the match that it was a fitting end to his career. "It's a great way to finish my career," he said. "The guys have been great throughout the tournament. I think most people had written us off before the tournament started, it's all credit to the guys.
"A guard of honour after nought not out, nothing wrong with that," he laughed. "But it's been a great way to finish. It's been a really good tournament, all the teams have been really close and it's been a great standard of cricket."
Mashonaland Eagles were forced to scrap hard to get to this position ahead of more fancied sides, but they have in their ranks players of grit and tenacity and both the leading batsmen and leading allrounder of the tournament hail from the Eagles camp. "It was great fun," said Nick Compton, who was awarded the Batsman of the Tournament award for his 233 runs. "We scrapped, we fought, we found ways of winning. We didn't play that well at times, but it's just nice to be standing here with a trophy."
"Im ecstatic, you can see how happy the guys are," added Netherlands and Essex allrounder Ryan ten Doeschate. "We've all put in so much hard work. It was a case of the team winning in spite of the overseas player rather than because of him. I've played a very small part, it's really been a team-effort to get here."
Ryan Butterworth captured the Allrounder's Award for his 165 runs and six wickets at an economy rate of under six an over. Butterworth came to the fore in Eagles' must-win game against last year's champions Mountaineers on Tuesday, hitting an unbeaten 41 and taking two cheap wickets, and sealed a win over the Rhinos on Wednesday with a brutal, unbeaten half-century. Apart from the tournament award, he has also been rewarded - at the age of 29 - with a call-up to the national squad for the trip to Bangladesh. "It's been a really good week for me," he said. "I'm really proud of what I've achieved."
Eagles' win was sealed by Andrew Hall's nerveless final over, and the former South Africa allrounder suggested that luck had been with him today. "It's not always that easy," he said. "You stand at the back of your mark, and all you can do is hit your areas. In the previous over, [Malcolm] Waller managed to get one down to third man for four, and that's just the way it goes. The last over just went my way. Once you bowl it in the right place, there's not much else you can do. If the batsman plays a great shot, that's the end of that. If you hit your mark six out of six, there's not much better you can do."
Hall added that he was "tremendously" happy to have been involved with the Zimbabwean tournament. "We've got a great bunch of lads, we've put in so much hard work and it's great to see that pay dividends."
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Liam Brickhill
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