Zimbabwe news August 10, 2010

Panyangara returns to Zimbabwean domestic cricket

Cricinfo staff

Zimbabwean domestic franchise Mountaineers have announced a series of new signings ahead of the 2010-11 season, which begins on September 6. In a significant development, Tinashe Panyangara, the former Zimbabwe seamer who last played for the national side in 2005, is set to return to Zimbabwe cricket after being snapped up by the franchise.

"When we heard of Panyangara's interests in joining the Mountaineers, we thought it is only befitting that he returns to us as he once played for the then provincial side - Manicaland," Mountaineers chief executive Phil Senzani told The Manica Post in Zimbabwe. "We believe that his presence will certainly add value to the franchise."

Panyangara, 24, shot to fame in Zimbabwe cricket circles when he bowled the Under-19 side to victory over Australia at the 2003-04 World Cup with 6 for 31. With the departure of most of the senior national players during the rebel crisis Panyangara found himself fast-tracked into the national side soon afterwards.

Although he enjoyed moderate initial success he was soon felled by a stress fracture of the back, missed a year of cricket and then drifted out of contention, before moving to England to play club cricket.

As well as Panyangara's return, Sean Clingeleffer, the former Tasmania wicketkeeper, could take on the role of head coach at Mountaineers, while Essex's Tony Palladino and Lancashire's Gareth Cross have reportedly also been contracted. Derbyshire's Greg Smith is also set to return to the franchise for whom he played a vital all-round role last season.

"I can confirm the acquisition of the three players who were based in the UK," added Senzani. "They are experienced players whom we hope will play a crucial role in enhancing our dominance on the local scene."

New faces were always expected at Mountaineers after the departure of Tatenda Taibu and Stuart Matsikenyeri to Southern Rocks, the loss of Njabulo Ncube, and the appointment of Steven Mangongo as head coach of Zimbabwe A and as national coach Alan Butcher's assistant.

"They [Taibu, Matsikenyeri and Ncube] were a vital part of our team, but they have left. They are indeed very good players and we hope they will be good ambassadors of the professional conduct at Mountaineers. We wish them well at the new franchises they will be joining.

"I am sure we are all aware of the commitments at national team level that Mangongo will certainly be preoccupied with and that is the main reason behind the changes in the technical department," explained Senzani. "Clingeleffer is expected to take over from Mangongo as head coach of the franchise. Mangongo is still with us as Clingeleffer's assistant. I should hasten to say that we have not yet finalised the deal with Clingeleffer, but we are almost through."

Mountaineers enjoyed much success in their first season under the new franchise system, winning both the Faithwear Metbank one-day competition and the Stanbic Bank Twenty20 tournament. Despite the loss of Matsikenyeri and Taibu they remain a potent outfit, with Hamilton Masakadza in prolific domestic form at the top of the order and a bowling line-up that already includes Tendai Chatara, Shingi Masakadza, Timycen Maruma and Prosper Utseya.

They also have former national Under-19 captain Tino Mawoyo, who was the leading domestic one-day run-scorer last season, in their ranks, while offspinner Tapiwa Mufudza has been promoted from the development XI and current Zimbabwe Under-19 wicketkeeper Kudzai Sauramba is sure to get more chances in Taibu's absence.