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Everton Matambanadzo: Promising Zimbabwe seamer who retired at a young age

Everton Matambanadzo took 4 wickets in three Tests at 62.5. In 7 ODIs he snared 11 wickets at 19.72. Photo Courtesy: Everton  Matambanadzo's  Facebook Profile
Everton Matambanadzo took four wickets in three Tests at 62.5. In seven ODIs he snared 11 wickets at 19.72. Photo Courtesy: Everton Matambanadzo’s Facebook Profile

Everton Matambanadzo, born on April 13, 1976, is a former Zimbabwe medium-fast bowler. Matambanadzo was considered to be a promising talent, but constant injuries and a loss of form saw his international career come to an early end. He emigrated to the United States of America in 2001. Shrikant Shankar looks back at the Zimbabwean’s brief career.

Everton Matambanadzo was born in Salisbury (now Harare). He was a right-handed medium-fast bowler and a right-handed tail-ender. He played for Mashonaland in domestic cricket. He was a promising bowler and made his Zimbabwe debut at the age of 20 in a Test match against Pakistan at Faisalabad in October 1996. It was the second Test and the two-match series was still in the balance. The first Test at Sheikhupura ended in a draw due to rain on Day Five. Matambanadzo made his debut along with fellow fast-medium bowler, Pommie Mbangwa, who would later become a renowned commentator.

Hasan Raza and Mohammad Hussain made their debut for Pakistan. Matambanadzo’s debut innings came at No 11 and he remained unbeaten on zero off one delivery as Zimbabwe were bundled out for 133 after electing to bat. Andy Flower top-scored with 61. Pakistan captain Wasim Akram was the wrecker-in-chief as he took six wickets. Matambanadzo opened the bowling for Zimbabwe with Mbangwa sharing the new ball. Matambanadzo took his first wicket quickly, as he dismissed Aamer Sohail leg-before for only two runs. Mbangwa then got the better of Ijaz Ahmed for the same score. At that time Zimbabwe would have been hopeful of bowling Pakistan out quickly. It was a spirited bowling effort, but an 81 from Saeed Anwar and 58 from Moin Khan helped Pakistan to 267. Matambanadzo dismissed Anwar caught behind by Andy Flower for his second wicket.

Zimbabwe showed a little more fight in their second innings, but were bowled out for 200. Dave Houghton and captain Alistair Campbell scoring half-centuries. Wasim and Waqar Younis took four wickets each. Anwar and Sohail chased down a 67-run target with absolute ease as Pakistan won the match by 10 wickets and the series 1-0. Matambanadzo made his One-Day International (ODI) debut in the following series in the third match at Peshawar on November 3. Zimbabwe were already down 2-0 after the first two ODIs. Matambanadzo impressed with four wickets, as Pakistan could only manage 264 for nine in their 50 overs. He dismissed all the top four batsmen. Matambanadzo’s first wicket was Shahid Afridi off the first ball he bowled in ODIs.

The rest were Zahoor Elahi, Raza and Ijaz Ahmed. Matambanadzo’s figures of four for 32 would remain as his best in ODIs. Zimbabwe made a positive start, but Saqlain Mushtaq’s four-wicket haul reduced them to 147. Grant Flower scored 77, but there was nothing of note from the rest, as Zimbabwe lost the match by 78 runs and the three-match series 3-0. Matambanadzo then played one ODI against South Africa at Johannesburg in a tri-series involving India on January 31, 1997. He took one wicket of Jonty Rhodes, as South Africa won the match by four wickets.

Matambanadzo’s next assignment was in an ODI tri-series at Sharjah involving Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe won one solitary match out of the four they played. They beat then reigning world champions Sri Lanka on April 8, 1997. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 203, but managed to bundle Sri Lanka out for only 153. Matambanadzo took the wicket of Romesh Kaluwitharana at the top of the order. However, Zimbabwe could not make it into the final, which Sri Lanka won by four wickets over Pakistan. Matambanadzo then played the second and final Test against New Zealand at Bulawayo in September 1997. The first Test had ended in a draw at Harare.

Half-centuries from Gavin Rennie and Grant Flower and an unbeaten 203 from Guy Whittall helped Zimbabwe post a commanding first innings total of 461. Matambanadzo and company were unable to exert dominance with the ball as New Zealand managed to score 403, before being bowled out. Nathan Astle (96), Daniel Vettori (90) and Chris Harris (71) helped New Zealand to a decent total with some important knocks. Matambanadzo went wicket-less. Zimbabwe captain Campbell had made a bold declaration in their second innings at 227 for eight handing New Zealand a 286-run target. Campbell had top-scored with 59 for Zimbabwe. Matambanadzo again went wicket-less, as New Zealand came very close to pulling off a magnificent victory.

Leg-spinner Adam Huckle took five wickets. The match was drawn with New Zealand’s score at 275 for eight, only 11 runs short of a victory. Zimbabwe only needed two wickets. In the end, the two-match series ended at 0-0. Matambanadzo played only played one more ODI in his career on October 11, 1997, against Bangladesh at Nairobi. Zimbabwe posted a total of 305 for four. Bangladesh were bowled out for 257. Matambanadzo took one wicket of Shahriar Hossain. Zimbabwe won the match by 48 runs. Matambanadzo’s ODI career ended with only seven matches. He took 11 wickets at an average of 19.72.

Matambanadzo found himself in the wilderness, as he did not play a single international match in 1998. He was also not selected for the ICC World Cup 1999. This was a tournament where Zimbabwe surprised many and reached the Super Sixes and were only one win away from a semi-final berth. Matambanadzo did get a Test call-up in November 1999 against Sri Lanka. It was a three-match series and the first Test had ended in a draw at Bulawayo. Matambanadzo played the second Test at Harare — his only Test at his home ground. After being sent into bat, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 174. Andy Flower scored 74 runs. Sri Lanka then scored 432 before being bowled out. Matambanadzo took two wickets.

Zimbabwe were bowled out for 292 in their second innings and Sri Lanka made heavy weather, while chasing a 35-run target losing four wickets. But they won by six wickets. The third Test was also at Harare and it ended in a draw. Matambanadzo was not selected to play in that match. That ended his Test career. He only played three Tests and took four wickets. He retired from all forms of cricket in 2001 at the age of 25. Matambanadzo then got married and emigrated to the United States of America in 2001. He was another case of one of Zimbabwe’s promising talents, whose careers ended quickly due to various reasons. He has a twin brother named Darlington Matambanadzo, who played First-Class and List A cricket for Mashonaland.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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