Arnoldus Mauritius Blignaut
August 01, 1978, Salisbury (now Harare)
Left hand Bat
Right arm Medium fast
A laid-back character, Blignaut hails from an Afrikaner farming family, as his forenames (Arnoldus Mauritius) suggest. His stronger suit is his pace bowling, and he returned the best figures by a Zimbabwean on Test debut - 5 for 73 in the first Test against Bangladesh at Bulawayo in April 2001. He also managed a first-ball duck in his maiden Test innings, although as a strokeplaying left-hander, he has a terrific eye for the ball and is also a fine fielder. After growing disenchanted with the game he sat out the 2001-02 season, amid reports of disputes with administrators and fellow players. He pursued a number of lines of employment including, briefly, male modelling. But in August 2002 he announced that he was returning, and in his first game back he took 5 for 79 against Pakistan. He then cemented his place back in the team and put in steady performances during the 2003 World Cup and in England later in the same year.
But he was one of the 15 rebel players who was involved in the stand-off with the Zimbabwe board and was ultimately sacked by them. In June 2004 he joined the growing exodus from Zimbabwe by signing for Tasmania, and also had a brief stint with Durham during the English summer. But Tasmania released him from his contract early - his spell was dogged by injury - and in February 2005 he returned 'unconditionally' to Zimbabwe. He was part of the strike against the board later in the year, and spent 2005-06 playing for the Lions in South Africa. He was for a time touted as successor to Tatenda Taibu as captain, but refused to play until he was paid substantial monies owed to him by the board.
After a four-year break from the game, Blignaut resurfaced in early 2010 during the return of several former players to the Zimbabwe fold. He signed for the Matabeleland Tuskers franchise and was included in Zimbabwe's squad for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, as well as the home tri-series with India and Sri Lanka that followed.
Martin Williamson June 2010
Batting & Fielding