June 20, 2001

West Indies embarrassed by Zimbabwe Country Districts

West Indies suffered a major humiliation when they conceded a double-century opening partnership on their way to a seven-wicket defeat by a Zimbabwe Country Districts team containing many former but no current international players apart from Dirk Viljoen.

They are having difficulty acclimatizing in Zimbabwe, as was soon evident when they batted after winning the toss in their match at Harare South Country Club. They were also probably unprepared for such a fine spell of opening bowling as that produced by former national players Eddo Brandes (aged 38) and Gus Mackay (33).

Runs were at a premium and poor shot selection accounted for their first four batsmen for just 29 runs, including Lara, caught at mid-on for 11 off Mackay, who dismissed three of them. As the bowling was changed, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper steadied the innings with a partnership of 78.

After Hooper fell for 34, wickets again tumbled at the other end while Chanderpaul played a steady innings full of good sense. His next real support came from Cameron Cuffy (23 not out) at number ten, who hit Dirk Viljoen for two massive sixes over long-on. Chanderpaul was finally bowled by Viljoen in the final over for 84, and the innings closed on 207 for nine.

The most successful bowlers were Mackay (three for 22) and off-spinner Barney Rogers (three for 36). The score was restricted by some fine Districts fielding and gave hope of a good finish.

For Districts, it was better than that. Andy Waller, aged 41, rolled back the years with a magnificent century, while Gavin Rennie played the ideal supporting role. They were rarely troubled by a West Indian attack that was uninspired rather than untidy. Waller, especially, took the eye with fine strokes all round the wicket, including his renowned powerful leg-side hits and later in his innings fine driving through the covers.

Waller fell just before the end, adjudged lbw to Cameron Cuffy for 124, with 14 fours and a six, of an opening stand of 202. Rennie followed two runs later, caught at midwicket off Marlon Samuels for 72, and West Indies were temporarily reinvigorated. Craig Evans was lbw to Cuffy for 1 before the Districts celebrated a memorable victory with two overs to spare.