THE tantalising prospect of a place at the next ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2018 seems to be bringing out the best from Zimbabwe’s Under-17 cricketers after they put up yet another near-flawless display at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Under-17s Cricket Week in Benoni, South Africa, last week.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe concluded its campaign with a 125-run win over hosts, Easterns, on the final day of the tournament on Thursday, to finish unbeaten in the limited overs segment of the contest after drawing their two “declaration” cricket matches.
Zimbabwe posted 287 for eight in their allotted 50 overs, with Liam Roche top scoring with an unbeaten 61, which was well-complemented by Alistair Frost (47) and Daniel Zvidzai (42).
Tanunurwa Makoni and Gregory Dollar both further chipped in with 34 each.
Easterns’ chase was stifled by the impressive seamer Jonathan Connolly, who was exceptional, taking five wickets for just 13 runs in 7.1 overs, while Oldreive Declan took three wickets for 35 runs to help bowl the opposition out for 162.
The Stephen Mangongo-coached side comfortably won the contest with 29 balls to spare to complete a very successful tour of South Africa.
Prior to the match against Easterns, Zimbabwe had outclassed a strong Western Province side by 43 runs in a T20 match, before registering a nervy six-run victory against KwaZulu in a hard-fought 50-over match.
The youthful side’s impressive performances at the CSA Under-17s Cricket Week came on the back of another successful tour of Namibia, where the team won the one-day international and T20 series 3-2 and 2-0 respectively.
One of the outstanding players during the tour of Namibia was promising all-rounder Trent Jayden, who slammed back-to-back centuries, both in a successful cause as Zimbabwe defeated Namibia.
Jayden, a top order batsman and quality pace bowler, could be the long-term solution to the shortage of genuine all-rounders in the national cricket team, should he decide to pursue an international career with Zimbabwe.
However, the former St Johns College student looks certain to be part of the group expected to represent Zimbabwe at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup to be held in New Zealand.
Besides Jayden, the other players from the Under-17 squad who have shown great promise during the tours of Namibia and South Africa, include wicketkeeper Zvidzai, captain Milton Shumba and pace bowler Dion Mazhawidza.
Prior to the visits to Namibia and South Africa, Zimbabwe toured Malaysia in August for 50-over and Twenty20 matches against the Malaysia Cricket Association president’s XI.