Zimbabwe Batsman Hamilton Masakadza Comes of Age
Amidst the frenetic Twenty20 Champions League and Trinidad&Tobago's exploits in India, a one day series in Zimbabwe has gone almost unnoticed. This is not unexpected of course: it’s hard to summon enough motivation to follow a discredited cricket nation when the likes of Lindell Simmons, Dwayne Bravo and the magnificent Kieron Pollard are wrecking havoc against more established names in world cricket.
And yet just this afternoon Masakadza hit a magnificent 178 off 169 balls against Kenya in what turning out to be a 4-1 demolition in the five match series. This is by no means mere statistic against a weak cricket nation: Gary Kirsten’s highest one day score of 188 came of the United Arab Emirates a little over 13 years ago.
Masakadza reckoning has not come by accident. In his last 15 innings alone in one day internationals the 25-year-old has scored a mammoth 710 runs at an average of 55 runs, amounting to over a third of the of the 2100 one day runs in total he has scored.
At 936 runs this year, he is the world’s leading scorer in one day internationals, four ahead of Australia’s Ricky Ponting. Seldom have batsman come so green, against any opposition.
As a 17-year-old schoolboy Masakadza became the youngest batsman to score a Test century on debut – 119 runs against the West Indies in 2001.
I have keenly followed his career since and a few months after that magnificent innings he defied Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Claude Henderson to score 13, 85, 13 and an unbeaten 42 in the space of two test and four innings against South Africa.
Then followed an abysmal low of which the deepest depths came when he was dropped for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. It was a controversial decision and I didn’t agree with it. But no matter: this is a batman who will one day break all of Zimbabwe Test batting records, Dave Houghton and Andy Flower’s.
The real test will doubtless come in the cauldrons of test cricket in two or three years time amidst the feisty bowling of Dale Steyn, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga and whoever new gem the likes of South Africa, India and Pakistan would have uncovered in that time.
But the platform has been laid.
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