Brendan Taylor wins Zimbabwe Cricket's top award
Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain, was named the country's cricketer and batsman of the year at the annual awards ceremony in Harare on Monday. Left-arm fast bowler Brian Vitori won two awards while medium-pacer Keegan Meth was the bowler of the year.
Zimbabwe returned to Test cricket in 2011 after a six-year gap and hosted three teams - Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand - with encouraging results. The standout player in those series was Taylor, who took over the captaincy in June and led Zimbabwe to victory in their Test comeback against Bangladesh.
Taylor scored two hundreds in three Tests this year and also became the first Zimbabwean to score back-to-back ODI centuries, against New Zealand in September. He averaged 49.53 in 17 ODIs so far in 2011. Taylor's performances earned him a contract with Wellington to play in New Zealand's HRV Cup and helped him beat Vusi Sibanda and Malcolm Waller to claim the Zimbabwe Cricket's top prize. Sibanda was also nominated along with Tino Mawoyo in the batsman-of-the-year category.
Meth, who suffered a severe mouth injury against Bangladesh in August, won the bowler-of-the-year award because of his swing bowling in domestic cricket. In last season's Logan Cup, Meth took 54 wickets in nine matches an average of 13.31 to finish second on the bowling charts.
With Zimbabwe's fast-bowling options growing over the past year, Vitori won the rookie-of-the-year prize ahead of his new-ball partner Kyle Jarvis. Vitori took five wickets on Test debut against Bangladesh and claimed five-fors in his first two ODIs. A stress fracture of the shin kept him out of the series against New Zealand but Vitori made his comeback in the Stanbic Bank 20 Series. He was also named the most promising player of the year after being nominated alongside legspinner Natsai Mushangwe, who made his ODI debut against New Zealand.
On the domestic front the Matabeleland Tuskers, who won the Logan Cup in 2010-11, was named franchise of the year, and their coach, Dave Houghton, was also rewarded for his efforts. Tuskers were also named the best-run franchise. They have secured the services of Chris Gayle for the ongoing Stanbic Bank 20 Series and are unbeaten in the event.