Home > Features >

Prosper Utseya: Zimbabwe’s parsimonious off-spinner

Prosper Utseya © Getty Images
Prosper Utseya © Getty Images

Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya with his prosaic skills is known for bowling tidy spells in the shorter formats of the game. Bharath Ramaraj looks at the career of the Zimbabwean cricketer who also went onto captain the setup to a famous win over the great Australian side in ICC World T20 2007.

During the middle of 2004, Zimbabwe cricket hit rock-bottom when 15 players withdrew from playing for the country due to political interference, selection issues and corruption. It resulted in a slew of greenhorns being thrust into playing at the international level. One of them was the promising 19-year old off-spinner, Prosper Utseya.

If we go down the memory lane in Utseya’s career by 2004, he had just started playing First-Class cricket for Mashonaland A and representing his country still seemed a bit of distant dream. But due to the uncertain cloud hovering over the future of Zimbabwean cricket, he was suddenly playing the seasoned campaigners, Sri Lanka in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Tests.

On one hand, he must have felt like flying on the wings of a childhood dream, but the harsh reality was that a bunch of inexperienced players were up against a formidable opponent. It didn’t surprise anyone that Sri Lanka thumped Zimbabwe both in ODIs and Tests.  Utseya, and others who played in that series must have been disheartened and heartbroken to virtually lose every game by a thumping margin.

Utseya, though, soon made a name for himself with his parsimonious spells. In the ICC Champions Trophy played in 2004 in England, Utseya bowled a fine spell of 10 overs for 35 runs against the home team. Even then, it was in a crystal clear manner evident that he didn’t get much purchase on the ball, but had exemplary control over his bowling.

Prosper Utseya can control the flow of runs with some accurate bowling © Getty Images
Prosper Utseya can control the flow of runs with some accurate bowling © Getty Images

In 2005, when Zimbabwe toured South Africa to play against the home team on rampage, everyone expected them to be smashed to smithereens. In the first ODI played at Wanderers, Johannesburg, on expected lines, South Africa mercilessly thrashed their opponents. However, Utseya was one of the few bright spots to emerge for Zimbabwe from that game. His spell of three for 40 at Johannesburg won him fulsome praise and appreciation.

By 2006, at the age of just 20, he was made the captain of a very young Zimbabwean side. He took over from the unheralded left-handed opening batsman, Terry Duffin. Actually, in the ICC 2007 World Cup, Utseya led the setup though; they weren’t able to pen their mark in the tournament. Even in the game against Ireland, they made a mess of chasing a modest total and could only tie the game.

However, in the ICC World T20 2007 held in the Rainbow Nation, Utseya’s band of boys shocked the entire world by defeating Australia in a humdinger. Utseya, and the tireless workhorse, Gary Brent, choked Australian batsmen and restricted them to a modest total and then chased it down in the last over of the game.

Since that glorious triumph that would be reverberated for years to come, Utseya has relinquished from his role of captaining the side. Yet, he continues to be a vital cog of the setup in the shorter formats of the game. In particular, in T20Is, he has a fine record. Anyone who maintains an economy rate below seven in T20Is is generally considered a player of fine pedigree. Even in the ongoing ICC World T20 2014, it was Utseya’s untiring spell of four overs for 18 runs against United Arab Emirates (UAE) that helped them to script a fine win.

It has to be said that his prosaic skills haven’t helped him to take too many wickets in ODIs, but even in that format, he maintains a fine economy rate of 4.34. Utseya is also a handy batsman lower down the order. He has a fifty against his name in ODIs and has compiled a century as well in First-Class cricket.

Here is a cricketer who came through the usual route of playing for Chipembere Primary School and due to his diligence and undying love for the game went onto become a fine servant of Zimbabwean cricket. In short, one has to commend the Harare born cricketer for wading through the narrow trench of hurdles to climb up the ladder and play for his country during difficult times.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton


South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run


Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai


AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Pakistan hold advantage at stumps on Day 3 of 1st Test against Australia

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Live Scorecard: Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 1st Test Day 1 at Mirpur

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, Live Cricket Score, 1st Test at Mirpur

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: BCCI awaits Wriddhiman Saha’s fitness report before searching for replacement

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 1st Test at Mirpur: Bangladesh aim to improve Test rank

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone lead by 81 runs as North Zone bowled out for 457

Strangers, Brothers and Cricket— the English novelist CP Snow’s lasting passion for the game

World Cup 1992, England vs Pakistan: Three hours of rain changes course of tournament

David Warner’s transformation into a dependable and effervescent batsman

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Bigg Boss 8 Highlights: Gautam Gulati claims Sonali Raut is not his kinda girl

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues, reports $950 million Q3 net profit

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Spanish La Liga 2014-15 Preview: Yet another Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo shootout on the cards in El Clasico

Google partners Oxford University to teach machines to think

BREAKING NEWS: Fire on the sets of Yeh Hai Mohabbatein and Kumkum Bhagya

Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ is the Typical Over the top Masala and Action

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here