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by John Ward - 14 February

Matches played Sunday 14 February

HARARE SPORTS CLUB v ALEXANDRA, at Harare South Country Club

ALEX 107 (23.1 overs) (G C Martin 29, T Manoussis 22; A M Blignaut 7/26, A P Hoffman 2/29). HARARE SPORTS CLUB 108/1 (20.1 overs) (C B Wishart 20, T R Gripper 37*, S V Carlisle 40*). Harare Sports Club won by nine wickets.

This match was played at Harare South as the Harare Sports Club ground is still under renovation. Alexandra, joint leaders before this match, had the misfortune to lose the toss and be put in to bat on a rain-affected pitch, which became decidedly worse as the morning sun shone on it. The chief beneficiary was Andy Blignaut, recently returned from tuition by Dennis Lillee at Madras. Without working up to his top pace, he extracted a great deal of vicious lift and movement from the pitch and removed Darrell and Murray Goodwin and Tim Bartlett, all without scoring, with virtually unplayable deliveries.

Later on Gary Martin led a recovery before throwing his wicket away, helped by Sean Davies (19) and Trevor Manoussis, but by then it was really too late. The pitch had eased considerably by the time Sports Club went in to bat, and good sound batting by Trevor Gripper and Stuart Carlisle saw them safely home before lunch.

Alex captain Darrell Goodwin was naturally disappointed that such an important match should be influenced so much by the toss of a coin, and thought events might well have gone differently if former Zimbabwean pace bowler Kevin Duers, still a leading club performer at the age of 38, had been given the opportunity to bowl on it.


MANICALAND 214/9 (50 overs) (G J Whittall 65, K G B Ziehl 70; T Hoal 2/45, G B Brent 3/51, D P Viljoen 2/43). OLD HARARIANS 187/5 (40.4 overs) (R W Price 27, G Lamb 51, D P Viljoen 28, T L Penney 32*, B C Strang 31*; J P Brent 2/31, D Yatras 2/37). Old Hararians won by five wickets (adjusted target).

Old Hararians by their victory took over top place in the league table after Alex's defeat. Manicaland recorded much the highest total of the day for a team batting first after choosing first innings in Mutare. Guy Whittall and Kenyon Ziehl dominated their innings with some good batting once they had seen off the early threat of Bryan Strang. Gary Brent also bowled well to take three good wickets. The pitch was sound, but scoring was not too easy as the ball did not come on to the bat.

The game was heading for a tight finish when rain intervened in the afternoon. Academy student Greg Lamb had scored a good fifty, but five wickets were down for not more than 100 at one stage. The target was adjusted according to the Duckworth-Lewis method, and Old Hararians needed to score at five runs an over to win. In the end Trevor Penney and Bryan Strang hit off the necessary runs with eight balls to spare.

A feature of the match was the fine fielding by both teams.


UNIVERSALS 102 (41.3 overs) (A D R Campbell 50; C N Evans 4/17, N E Batson 2/11). OLD GEORGIANS 104/0 (19.4 overs) (G W Flower 37*, M A Wagh 61*). Old Georgians won by ten wickets.

This was another match to be played at a neutral venue due to the extreme wetness of the club grounds belonging to both teams involved, despite a three-day drought destined to end very shortly. Alistair Campbell came under considerable criticism for his decision to bat first on a pitch still suffering from the effects of the weather, but he did his best to put it right by scoring nearly half the Universals total himself.

The pitch yielded a lot of movement, although there was little bounce, which also made scoring difficult. Two needless run-outs did not help Universals' cause, and only the determined Campbell looked at all comfortable; the only other batsman to reach double figures was number ten Imran Meman with 14.

The pitch had eased by the time Old Georgians went in to bat, and openers Grant Flower and Warwickshire's Academy student Mark Wagh made light work of the target. The match was over by early afternoon, with time to spare before more rain appeared on the scene.


BAC 124 (34.4 overs) (N C Johnson 59; J A Rennie 2/25, H H Streak 2/33, M H Dekker 2/20). QUEENS 127/6 (27.5 overs) (J R Craig 27, N R van Rensburg 35, H H Streak 28; N C Johnson 4/13). Queens won by four wickets.

BAC would have been in a sorry plight in this Bulawayo derby without Neil Johnson, who would undoubtedly have won any Man of the Match award, with his fifty and four wickets. Queens have a powerful bowling attack which quite overwhelmed the other BAC batsmen, with John Rennie bowling particularly well and swinging the ball prodigiously. The only other batsman to reach double figures was Bullivant, with 14 at number eight.

Queens perhaps batted a little over-confidently and lost more wickets than were necessary to reach a comparatively easy target. Johnson took four good middle-order wickets.

In a rain-ruined tournament, the following batsmen have scored 150 or more runs: Guy Whittall (Manicaland) 187 @ 31.16, Mark wagh (Old Georgians) 184 @ 61.33, Grant Flower (Old Georgians) 167 @ 55.66, and Trevor Penney (Old Hararians) 165 @ 82.50.

The following bowlers have taken 10 or more wickets: Andy Blignaut (Old Hararians) 12 @ 7.83, and Gary Martin (Harare Sports Club) 10 @ 17.00.

With six matches played and one round to go, Old Hararians have established an outright lead in the table.

Points to date (3 for a win, 1.5 for a draw): Old Hararians 13.5, Alexandra, Old Georgians and Queens all 10.5, Universals and Harare Sports Club 9, Manicaland 6, BAC 3.

NEXT WEEKEND'S FIXTURES (subject to interference without prior notification from the weather):

Alexandra v Bulawayo Athletic Club, at Alexandra Sports Club

Old Hararians v Harare Sports Club, at Old Hararians

Queens Sports Club v Old Georgians, at Queens Sports Club

Universals v Manicaland, probably at Country Club

The top four teams in the league go through to the knockout competition, to be played in March. Only Manicaland and BAC are without any hope of getting through.

Old Hararians are certain of a top four position, while Alexandra should make certain of it when they play the weak BAC team -weather permitting. Queens against Old Georgians should be a needle match, as the winner will go through to the knockout and the loser probably not. Harare Sports Club will need to beat Old Hararians to reach the top four, and Universals to beat Manicaland.