A talented batsman but a modest, hardworking character, Stuart Matsikenyeri is the third of three school friends from Churchill Boys High School, Harare to represent Zimbabwe in international cricket. Matsikenyeri is a short, wristy batsman with a low centre of gravity and a fierce cut shot, and is also a useful part-time offspinner. He learned his cricket in the black township of Highfield on the outskirts of Harare, representing Zimbabwe at U-16 and U-19 levels, and has also played club cricket in Australia - a vital step in his development.
His debut came as an opening batsman against Pakistan at Bulawayo in November 2002. He played one match in the 2003 World Cup, and played in the NatWest Series in England later that year, scoring a vital 44 at Trent Bridge in a four-wicket win. But he has failed to really push on after the early promise and has struggled against high quality pace bowling, despite being strong on the cut and pull. He is an impressive fielder in a variety of positions but is generally used in the gully area.
In 2006 he declined to sign a new contract with the board, but, like several others, subsequently returned to the fold as the lure of a World Cup outings grew closer. He stayed there and thereabouts for Zimbabwe, but his chances in the national side diminished as did his returns with the bat. There were some bright points - such as his record 188-run sixth wicket partnership against South Africa with Tatenda Taibu in 2009, but in 2013 Matsikenyeri, who was captain of Mashonaland Eagles at the time, followed Taibu into premature retirement. He left Zimbabwe for Johannesburg, where he played league cricket and coached at a prestigious high school, and surprised many when he returned to Zimbabwe to fight for a place at the 2015 World Cup. His experience clearly counted in his favour when he was included in Zimbabwe's squad for that tournament.Liam Brickhill