Matabeleland fast bowler stakes his claim January 31, 2006

Mpofu bounces back

Cricinfo staff



Christopher Mpofu in action against Bangladesh in 2005 © AFP
For Christopher Mpofu, history indeed repeated itself when he picked up six wickets against Mashonaland in the opening match of the Faithwear inter-provincial one-day competition at Harare Sports Club on Monday.

Mpofu, a gangling Matabeleland fast bowler, achieved the same feat in November 2004 when he claimed six wickets against the same opponents at the same venue as Matabeleland romped to a ten run victory over their fierce rivals. Mpofu went on to finish with the highest number of wickets (11) as Matabeleland won their first inter-provincial title in five years.

Mpofu's stunning performance did not go unnoticed as the national selectors drafted him into the squad that faced England in four ODIs that November. He made his ODI debut at Harare Sports Club in the first ODI and caused some anxious moments for the English batsmen and a star had been born.

From the England tour, Zimbabwe went to Bangladesh and in the absence of senior players who were on strike Mpofu took over as the country's No. 1 bowler. Even the return of Heath Streak and Andy Blignaut did not displace Mpofu from the team, and he still took the new ball in both versions.

However, he came under heavy scrutiny during Zimbabwe's first Test against New Zealand at Harare Sports Club in August last year, a match Zimbabwe lost by an innings and 294 runs, their heaviest Test. He was given another run in the second Test at Queens but the selectors lost patience with him and he was omitted for the triangular series against New Zealand and India and the subsequent Tests against India in September.

Mpofu appeared to have lost his way amid concerns about his behaviour off the field, but his six wickets against Mashonaland might have signaled a new beginning. It might have been a makeshift Mashonaland side, but still that cannot take the gloss off the achievement and Mpofu might be leading the Zimbabwe attack again in the Caribbean come April - that is if the tour goes ahead.

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