Rollercoaster ride for Makoni's cricketers

Makoni's cricketers have had mixed fortunes in recent weeks in the Lilthurbridge Cup. A month ago they travelled to Enterprise Country Club (30 minutes north-east of Harare) where they comprehensively outplayed these six-time champions. Set a modest 185 (Ant Mitchell 59, Roger Staunton 38), Makoni cruised home with 186/4 (Kenyon Ziehl 66, Kevin Curran 47*).

The following week they handed out another six-wicket hiding, this time to former Country Districts powerhouses Hwedza. Winning the toss and fielding, Makoni restricted the visitors to 163/7. Richard Seager was luckily dropped four times during his 59 otherwise the game would have been over sooner. Zeihl(41), Hough (37), Frans Briers (34) and Curran (32*) knocked off the runs with ten overs to spare.

Makoni - who always field first to get the worst part of the day over with - included former Zimbabwe B opening bowler Dave Timms. Now resident in the USA, 'Gonzo' was unfortunately unable to re-enact former glories. A huge man who occasionally played lock for Manicaland in the eighties, he once carried the drinks for Zimbabwe - dutifully wearing blazer and black shoes, believing his team mates' assurances that this was protocol. A notable absentee from Hwedza's ranks after 30-odd seasons was Mike Seager, now playing for Enterprise after a spat with the selectors.

These results propelled Makoni as group winners into the play-offs. Early-season favourites for the title, they came unstuck at the first hurdle. Travelling to Chegutu (formerly Hartley), they were beaten by 89 runs by a young side bristling with Academy players. Batting first, Chegutu made 198/8 (Barney Rogers 44, D. Waterfall 32), with only Bokkie Moolman (2/45) enjoying limited success with the ball. Stunned by Academy bowler Van Rensburg (5/33 - all ducks) and De Vries (3/36), Makoni slumped to 109 all out, with only Kevin Curran managing 57. The Makoni veterans took exception to the tone adopted by these youthful townies who sledged and abused their way to an unpleasant victory.

Last weekend with only nine players they drove 400 kilometres to receive a hiding from Karoi. Sent in, they made 194 (Nigel Hough 75, Kenyon Ziehl 35), which Karoi overhauled with 13 overs and seven wickets to spare. Robin Brown felt obliged to retire on 70 such was the disarray of these would-be cup bowlers. Simon Ballance had done an Achilles, Hough's back had gone and Ziehl had pulled thigh, hamstring and armpit muscles. With only one game to go they are now unable to progress to the semi-finals.

Last weekend saw all the provincial chairmen meeting for discussions in Bulawayo during the one-day internationals at Queens Sports Club. Plenty of fire was breathed on the state of the game and the direction its leaders were taking. There was a consensus that development needed huge financial support, most importantly in the form of full-time paid provincial administrators. With the game's expansion and thrust, the amateur part-timers currently doing the job feel increasingly overwhelmed. All clubs are struggling financially and there are feelings that the ZCU should emulate other Test nations in equitable income distribution.