Player Profile - Craig Evans
Over the next few weeks, leading up to the 2020 Over-50s World Cup, we’ll be featuring the key new players (that is, those who did not participate in the 2018 World Cup) in each of the 12 sides.
These aren’t necessarily the most famous players, but they are cricketers who I’m picking to play a decisive role for their side.
This week’s profile is Zimbabwe’s Craig Evans.
The 2018 Over-50s World Cup was not characterised by big hitting, but Zimbabwe’s Craig Evans is one of the newcomers who could change that for the 2020 edition.
He was a regular part of the Zimbabwe squad during that country’s Golden Era of the 1990s, the days when Flowers, Strangs and Whittals, along with the likes of Alistair Campbell, Eddo Brandes and Heath Streak, made Zimbabwe a side that no-one could take lightly.
The bare stats are that Evans played three Tests and 53 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 1992 and 2003. He batted in the middle order, but also opened on occasions, and bowled part-time medium pace.
His role usually required him to get on with it, which he generally did. The best example of this was a match in the Singer World Series of 1996, when he walked out at 66/4 against Sri Lanka in Colombo and belted the likes of Muralitharan and Jayasuriya for 96 not out from 105 balls, with six fours and three big sixes.
At first-class level, he was a little inconsistent in his early years. Towards the end of his career, however, he became rather difficult to dismiss. In one purple patch in the early 2000s he had consecutive first-class scores of 118, 11, 210, 163, 35, 147 and 228* (hitting 23 sixes along the way), plus a career-best 6/37 for good measure.
A natural sportsman, Evans also played rugby for Zimbabwe as a fullback, and has been a scratch golfer as well.
Having just turned 50, Evans will be one of the younger players in the Zimbabwe side. And like all the Zimbabweans, he is taking the World Cup seriously. He does not appear to have lost much of his strength as he smashed 104 not out from 64 balls in a recent warm-up game. The word from the Zimbabwe camp is that his bowling is going well too, and he should be fit enough to play all seven games.
Impact: Evans is likely to bat in the middle order for Zimbabwe and will be an unwelcome sight for flagging bowlers in the middle-to-late overs. His medium-pacers may also be useful in conditions that will be familiar to him.
By Jim Morrison