Andy Blignaut: 11 interesting facts to know about the Zimbabwean all-rounder

Arnoldus [Andy] Mauritius Blignaut, born August 1, 1978, is a Zimbabwean all-rounder who was well-known for his menacing pace and maverick approach with the bat. On the occasion of his 39th birthday, Suraj Choudhari points out 11 things to know about the player who possessed immense talent but his career was flooded with controversies which took a heavy toll on him.

1. A genuine all-rounder: Blignaut belongs to a rare tribe of effective all-rounders. Predominantly a new ball bowler, Blignaut had a penchant for hitting the ball long and hard lower down the order. His strike-rate of 106.28 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) is a testament to his batting ability.

2. Belongs to a family of farmers: Blignaut comes from an Afrikaner farming family.

3. Impactful Test debut: Blignaut caught everyone’s attention when he claimed five wickets in the first innings on his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2001. He finished the game with eight Bangladeshi scalps to his credit. His eight wickets is the best return for a Zimbabwean on Test debut.

4. Funky dyed hair-do: Blignaut was one of the stylish players in cricket. He once dyed his hair with colours that reflected his national flag during a One-Day International (ODI) against West Indies in 2001.

5. Passion for modelling: Blignaut possessed stunning looks too, which led him to try his luck in modelling for a considerable amount of time. He missed the whole 2001-02 season due to modelling commitments.

6. Impactful return to cricket against Pakistan: After flirting with modelling, Blignaut made a terrific comeback in the first Test of the series against Pakistan at home in 2002. He a picked a five-wicket haul in the first innings and finished with a tally of eight wickets for the match.

7. Emphatic knock against Australia in the 2003 World Cup: In a group stage match against Australia in the 2003 World Cup, Blignaut launched a tremendous assault on the likes of Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. His cameo of 54 from just 28 balls helped Zimbabwe post a competitive total of 246 on the board. Zimbabwe were reeling at 142 for six before Blignaut went ballistic.

8. His love-affair with Bangladesh continues: After a fantastic debut against Bangladesh in 2001, Blignaut inscribed his name in The Hall of Fame with a magnificent hat-trick against them in the first Test at home in 2003-04. His victims included Hannan Sarkar, Mohammad Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahman. Blignaut was the first Zimbabwean to take a hat-trick in Tests.

9. Rebel against the Board: Blignaut was among the 15 players who rebelled against the Zimbabwe Cricket Board in 2004 as a result of which he was exiled from the national team along with the others.

10. Short stint with Durham and Highveld Lions: After being axed from the national side in, Blignaut set out to explore other avenues, which included stints with Australian state side Tasmania and English county Durham. But injuries and poor form hampered his run with the overseas teams too.

11. Return to International cricket: After a four-year hiatus, Blignaut s cricket career was finally revived back home in 2010, as he signed a contract with Matabeleland Tuskers. He was also a part of Zimbabwe s 2010 World T20 campaign in the West Indies.

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)