ZCU Annual Awards July 29, 2004

Ray Price favourite to win award

Wisden Cricinfo correspondent

Ray Price: front-runner for the Most Outstanding Player award © Getty Images
The ZCU has admitted that the rebel cricketers are eligible for recognition during the board's annual awards, to be held on August 5 at Harare Sports Club.

It is not clear whether the ZCU will consider the players for the awards, but a spokesperson for the board accepted that as the players were part of the team during the 2003-2004 season, they would eligible.

Ray Price is front-runner to land the Most Outstanding Player award for his sterling performance with the ball. Price was Zimbabwe's leading wicket-taker in Tests last season with 30 wickets. He hit top form during Zimbabwe's tour to Australia where he took 6 for 121 runs in the second Test at the SCG in October 2003. He continued with his terrific form at home against West Indies, grabbing a career-best 6 for 73 in the first Test at Harare Sports Club.

Heath Streak should also be in the reckoning for his all round exploits, although it is inconceivable that the ZCU would honour a man who is at the centre of the row. During the year, Streak passed 200 wickets in both Tests and ODIs. He also scored his maiden Test hundred, an unbeaten 127 in the first Test against West Indies at Harare Sports Club.

Other contenders for the award, which was won by Andy Blignaut last year, are allrounder Sean Ervine and new skipper Tatenda Taibu.

Teenage sensation Tinashe Panyangara is favourite to walk away with the Most Outstanding Under-21 Player. Panyangara made his mark during the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh earlier this year when he took 6 for 31 during Zimbabwe's sensational victory over Australia. The 19 year-old Panyangara also posed threats to experienced batsman during the Sri Lanka and Australia tour towards the end of the season.

Another player who should be considered for the award is Tawanda Mupariwa. After being controversially left out of the Under-19 World Cup team, Mupariwa made his international debut against Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI at Harare Sports Club and quickly made an impact with two wickets.