houghton dave

David Houghton, born June 23, 1957, can be probably regarded as the best Zimbabwean batsman alongside Andy Flower. Suvajit Mustafi lists out 10 interesting facts about the Bulawayo-born cricketer, who is now a renowned coach.

1. Natural sportsman

Houghton attended the same school as former Zimbabwean skipper Duncan Fletcher, now a renowned coach. Houghton was a natural sportsman and excelled in cricket, hockey, squash and tennis.

2. A policeman

Knowing that it wasn t possible for him to provide for his family with just sports, he pursued his career as a policeman. However, due to change in policies, he saw no future in police force and turned his attention to cricket.

3. National hockey goalkeeper to a national wicketkeeper

Houghton was Zimbabwe s hockey goalkeeper for many years. Former Pakistan forward Kaleemullah Khan, who won gold in 1984 Olympics, regarded Houghton as the greatest goalkeeper he played against. Wicket-keeping came natural to him and he continued doing so till his early 30s but later a hand injury forced him out of the job.

4. Memorable international debut

Houghton made his international debut, aged 25, along with 10 other Zimbabwean cricketers, in the memorable match at Trent Bridge against Australia in the 1983 World Cup. The Fletcher-led Zimbabwe pulled off a 13-run win. Houghton was dismissed by Graham Yallop for a first ball duck, but later contributed with a catch behind the stumps. Houghton scored two fifties in the competition.

5. Classic 142 against the Kiwis in 1987 World Cup

It needed was a sensational running catch by New Zealand star Martin Crowe to end a magnificent knock by Houghton at Hyderabad. Chasing 243, Houghton played a lone hand, scoring 142 from 137-balls as Zimbabwe fell just three short of the target. Houghton struck six sixes in that innings. The knock was highest by a player from associate nations against a Test-playing country.

6. Zimbabwe s first-ever Test captain

Houghton led Zimbabwe in their first-ever Test match in 1992 against India. Young Andy Flower, too, made his debut as the side s wicketkeeper in the Harare Test. Flower and Houghton shared a 165-run stand for the sixth wicket.

7. Oldest centurion on Test debut before Adam Voges

Houghton scored 121 in Zimbabwe s first-ever Test. That Test ended in a draw in which Houghton became the oldest cricketer to score a hundred on Test debut. It was a record that stayed intact till earlier this month when Andy Voges, at 35 years and eight months, scored a hundred on debut against West Indies in Dominica on June 2015 to break Houghton s mark. Houghton was 35 years four months when he scored his hundred against India at Harare. Incidentally, Houghton is currently the batting coach of Middlesex, whose captain is Voges.

8. Highest Test score by a Zimbabwean batsman

Zimbabwe dominated the second Test against Sri Lanka at Harare in 1994, thanks to Houghton s 266. He had almost scored 60 percent of the innings score. Houghton s 266 remains Zimbabwe s highest in Test cricket.

9. Fund-raising walk for Zimbabwean cricket

In June 1998, Houghton, who was then the national coach of the Zimbabwean side, finished a fund-raising walk from his birth place Bulawayo to Harare, in order to establish a new cricket academy in Zimbabwe. He received huge support and was joined by many. He completed the 400 km distance in 22 days and raised over US$40,000.

10. Established coach

The cricket fraternity and many Zimbabwean players speak highly of Houghton. Post retirement, he had several coaching stints with English county teams. He also became Zimbabwe s national coach. In recent times, he served Derbyshire as their batting coach from 2011 to 2013, before spending a few months with Somerset in 2014. From November 2014 onwards, he is the batting coach of Middlesex.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully [Twitter] and rivu7 [Facebook].