October 10, 1983, Highfields, Harare
Right hand bat
Right arm medium, Right arm offbreak
Vusi Sibanda is a contemporary of Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza and Stuart Matsikenyeri. Like them, he comes from the Harare township of Highfield and earned a ZCU scholarship to Churchill High School. Sibanda is an opening batsman and an occasional medium-pace bowler, and was a student at the CFX Academy in 2002. He scored 58 on debut against the West Indies, but his selection for the national team came too early, and despite failing to live up to his potential, the crisis in the national side meant that he kept his place long after others would have been discarded. Despite being a superb timer of the ball off both the front and back feet, he was slow to learn the ability to build a big innings and his selections were due almost entirely to his outstanding potential rather than actual performance. He has a very sound technique, but poor shot selection has often brought about his downfall. Coach Kevin Curran noted that he matured well on the West Indian tour in May 2006. He suffered a hand injury early on, but took his opportunities when given them, starting the tour with 52 at Georgetown, and finishing with a 78 and then a superb century in the Tri-Series final against Bermuda.
He had a successful club season in Sydney, Australia, which seemed to have paid dividends when he registered scores of 47, 93 not out, and 64 in the home series against Bangladesh in February 2007. He could not carry this form into the World Cup, however, and his only innings of note in the tournament was 67 in Zimbabwe's tied game against Ireland at Kingston. He returned to Australian club cricket after the World Cup amid questions over his commitment to international cricket, but subsequently returned to Zimbabwe and was selected for the Afro-Asia Cup, making some impressive starts without being able to push on for a big score. He narrowly missed out on a first ODI hundred against a Test-playing nation when he was run out for 96 against the West Indies in Bulawayo in December 2007, and remained in contention for the national side thereafter with the odd good innings.
Sibanda seemed to have fully matured as a batsman during the 2009-10 Zimbabwean domestic season. He was named as captain of the Midwest Rhinos and called up for the Zimbabwe XI to take on Kenya in the Intercontinental cup game at Kwekwe. Responding superbly, he rescued the Zimbabweans with 209 in the first innings and sealed the victory with an unbeaten 116 in the second. This marked the beginning of a rich vein of form for Sibanda, and he rocketed to the top of the domestic first-class batting tables. Before the end of the Logan Cup, he had taken his season tally to almost 1500 runs at an average of 95 with nine hundreds, including a career-best 215. Tellingly, only once did he pass fifty and fail to reach a hundred. With statistics like those, it is hard to see how he can be left out of the national side, and will likely play a major role should Zimbabwe return to Test cricket in the near future.
Liam Brickhill January 2010
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