BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
SOUTH African wicketkeeper/batsman Ricardo Vasconcelos has tipped former Zimbabwe fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani to make an impact in his first season in English cricket with County Championship side Northamptonshire.
Muzarabani put his international career on hold in August last year to sign a three-year Kolpak deal with English county side Northamptonshire.
Although he is only expected to make his Northamptonshire debut when they open their campaign against Durham at The County Ground on March 31, Muzarabani has already made an obvious impression on Vasconcelos.
The former South Africa Under-19 star, who enjoyed a memorable debut season at the club last year to be named Northants’ Young Player of the Year, feels the Zimbabwean will add something different to the Northants bowling attack and ask plenty of questions of opposition batsmen.
Vasconcelos said he was struggling to adjust to Muzarabani’s pace and extra bounce when keeping wicket in pre-season.
“It’s been a bit of an adjustment — the bounce is different as it’s a hard floor, not grass, and it was a baptism of fire when Blessing (Muzarabani) is running into you as the first bowler you’ve got to face! There’s definitely some extra bounce then —he doesn’t hold back in the nets!
“All of our other bowlers are a similar height, so the ball is released from a similar point,” he said.
“So someone like Blessing can throw you off because you’ve got to look at a different place where the ball is being released from.
“He also bowls a different length, which is a different challenge, and with someone like Sando (Ben Sanderson) bowling from the other end, it’s going to help that kind of partnership.
“If he gets on song it’s going to help everyone.”
Before putting his international career on hold, Muzarabani had played all three formats for Zimbabwe, taking 18 wickets at 40.72 in one-day internationals and nine at 24.44 in Twenty20 internationals.
The tall bowler was part of the 2017 intake of former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu’s England-based academy, aimed at developing Zimbabwe’s player pool.
He made his international debut in the four-day Test against South Africa in December and quickly made a good impression, before deciding to take his career in a different direction.