Close to 10 000 fans brought the house down as the curtain came down on the popular Stanbic Twenty20 cricket series at Harare Sports Club last Sunday but focus returns to the four-day Castle Logan Cup starting on Thursday.
Mashonaland Eagles won the coveted trophy, dismissing Kwekwe-based MidWest Rhinos by one run in a thrilling final. After the disappointment of losing in the final, Rhinos will now shift their attention to the country’s premier first-class cricket tournament, the Castle Logan Cup. They make the trip to Bulawayo for a date with the current Castle Logan Cup pacesetters, Matabeleland Tuskers, at Queens Sports Club, starting on Thursday.
In an interview with NewsDay on Wednesday, Rhinos coach Jason Gillespie said he was confident that his side would pick up their first win of the season after drawing their first three matches.
“We played some wonderful cricket during the T20 and I’m confident that the guys will adjust to the longer version of the game. We know we have to start winning and I’m confident that we will come back with a victory,” said Gillespie.
Despite reaching the final of the T20 competition, Rhinos are yet to win a match in the Logan Cup, with their first three matches all ending in disappointing draws.
Like all franchises in action, Rhinos will be missing the services of national team players who will be leaving for Bangladesh on Thursday.
Gillespie said they would miss the services of Brendan Taylor and Graeme Cremer but said he was not worried because there were equally good players coming up the ranks to fill the void.
“In the spin department we have leg spinner Remembrance Nyathi who should fill the void left by Cremer and I’m confident that the other batsmen will step up in the absence of Taylor,” said Gillespie.
Tuskers on the other hand will be hoping to continue with their good run in the longer version of the game after securing crushing innings and a 124-run victory away to fierce rivals Eagles at the end of October.
Tuskers will be without seam bowlers Keegan Meth and Christopher Mpofu.
All-rounder Meth was the most lethal strike bowler in the previous games of the tournament, having picked 16 wickets in three matches and enjoying a decent Stanbic Twenty20 outing which earned him a call-up to the national team.
However, Tuskers coach Dave Houghton is spoilt for choice in that department as he has the fast-improving duo of Njabulo Ncube and Bradley Staddon and the experienced Tawanda Mupariwa.
In the other match, second-placed Mountaineers will be hoping to put the disappointment of the T20 competition behind them when they clash with basement side Southern Rocks.
Rocks anchor the log standings, with no victory in three matches, having drawn twice while second-placed Mountaineers will be hoping to put the disappointment of the T20 behind them.