New responsibility brings the best out of steady Hondo

Worcestershire 262 & 247 Zimbabwe 334

Douglas Hondo is set to be a busy man during Zimbabwe's 10-week tour of England. With Heath Streak, his captain and leading bowler, sidelined because of a back injury and the team's quickest bowler, Travis Friend, keeping the crowd at New Road on their toes – in the manner in which a blind javelin thrower would – Zimbabwe's limited bowling resources already give the appearance of being stretched to breaking point.

Douglas Hondo is set to be a busy man during Zimbabwe's 10-week tour of England. With Heath Streak, his captain and leading bowler, sidelined because of a back injury and the team's quickest bowler, Travis Friend, keeping the crowd at New Road on their toes – in the manner in which a blind javelin thrower would – Zimbabwe's limited bowling resources already give the appearance of being stretched to breaking point.

That elasticity remains, and Zimbabwe start today needing 176 runs to win their second consecutive match of the tour, is largely down to the efforts of the 23 year-old from Bulawayo. In Zimbabwe's first game at Edgbaston the dreadlocked medium-pacer had match figures of 7 for 75 against British Universities. And with five further victims here Hondo appears not only to have adapted nicely to English condition, but to be thriving on the responsibility tossed his way.

Hondo may have spent time in 2000 at one of his bowling camps in India, but Dennis Lillee he is not. The run up is functional rather than flowing and the action solid. The ball fails to come out of his hand at a ferocious pace but it does pitch consistently in the right area, which is something too few of the quicker bowlers have been capable of doing on this helpful surface. Bowling a tight off-stump line he troubled Worcestershire's top order and in a wicketless 10-over spell either side of lunch had figures of 0 for 21. A change in fortune came via a change of ends and it was the dismissal of Stephen Peters, for a good-looking 63, that opened the way for Zimbabwe's spinners to clear up the tail.

It is unlikely Hondo will find the pitch in 10 days time at Lord's quite as accommodating as the two he has so far played on, but if there is any life in it he will keep England's batsmen honest.

Quite what the home side were trying to do was hard to understand. Yes, the pitch was difficult to bat on but several players appeared to go out with an over ambitious intention. Vikram Solanki pulled a long-hop off the struggling Friend to midwicket, Peters carelessly cut one to cover and Gareth Batty perished attempting to hit Grant Flower straight back over his head in the first over he bowled.

It was only through the efforts of Andrew Hall, one of Worcestershire's two overseas players, that prevented the possibility of this game finishing in three days. The powerfully built South African struck the ball as cleanly as any player in the game and during his time at the crease proved two things. One, he is entertaining to watch and, two, he does not like running between the wickets. Fifty-four of his 68 runs came in boundaries.

However, Hall eventually succumbed to Flower three balls after sweeping the left-arm spinner into a nearby field when he too pulled a long hop to square-leg.

It was not just with the ball that Hondo impressed, he also played his part with the bat by frustrating a wayward bowling attack for 70 minutes during the morning session. Through resolute defence and a fair amount of fortune – he was dropped on 13 by Peters in the slips and edged several boundaries down to the unattended third-man area – he gave excellent support to Saturday's centurion Stuart Carlisle. With Streak unable to bat the pair put on 56 valuable runs for the last wicket before Carlisle was stumped looking to hit a third six in his 504-minute stay. The 31-year-old would have slept well last night. He has spent all but one delivery out in the middle.

Comments