CRICKET: Will remodelled Utseya prosper?

Prosper Utseya

Prosper Utseya

\n

Prosper Utseya bowled economically, provoking thoughts that maybe Mr Dots was back, but those dots were against Canada and they were coming from a remodelled bowling action.

\n

These are new times for the vastly experienced international cricketer who has 160 ODIs to his name.

\n

In fact, this was his first international game with a reworked bowling action and coincidentally the series came when the World Cup squad was being selected.

\n

Utseya got selected and he will play at his third ICC Cricket World Cup set for Australia and New Zealand from Valentine’s Day till March 29.

\n

Canada are minnows who have been stripped off their ODI status.

\n

The North Americans are an ICC Associate member who play in the World Cricket League Division 2 which “already represents a historical nadir in their cricketing fortunes.”

\n

Utseya retained “pleasing” figures going at an average economy of under three runs per over in the recent four-match one day series.

\n

Was he really tested, will his ‘mystery’ bowling be mysterious to AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afrid or Rohit Sharma at the World Cup?

\n

The soft spoken 29-year-old admits Canada are nowhere near what he will come up against at the World Cup, but believes he gleaned some positives from the Canada series.

\n

“Am I satisfied, yes, though there is still room for improvement. I cannot sit and think I am on top of my game because to a certain extent I was not tested because we were playing a lowly-ranked international side,” said Utseya.

\n

He continued: “I went at two an over in all the four games, managed to pick up wickets, five, and I averaged eighty something with the bat.

\n

“It is a good sign; it shows that there is something I am doing right. I am happy that I could land the ball where I wanted, meaning I have got control.

\n

“However, to a certain extent I was not tested because of the situations we found ourselves in.”

\n

The bowler, who has been banned to bowl his stock ball, the off-spin, has been working on other variations.

\n

“Yes, I am experienced, but this was my first outing with my remodelled action. I have said before that if you can control the batsman you are on top of your game. So, that’s what I try to do basically and obviously in different situations. It’s good work in progress.”

\n

Utseya’s inclusion in the World Cup 15 has drawn some criticism, with some saying John Nyumbu should have been selected since he is a genuine off-spinner.

\n

Will that put “Chirandu”, as Utseya is mostly called by his teammates, under pressure?

\n

“It’s a world of pressure; you can’t run away from it and good players are the ones that perform under pressure. Imagine if I had not performed against Canada we would be talking of a different story. But the first step is I managed to deal with it; I believe I am a good player.

\n

“I have performed under pressure before; it’s not my first time.

\n

“People are entitled to their opinions, but at the end of the day I showed what I am capable of doing.

\n

“At the end of the day, one can’t run away from the pressure. We are sportspersons and that’s what we do. We also can’t run away from reality; the World Cup will come, Prosper will bowl, the World Cup will go.

\n

Will he prosper?

\n

He is a man under the spotlight; he seems ready to take on the fight.

\n

“We are paid to play and perform under pressure. I take it as a challenge and so far it’s a tick in my box because I have started in the right direction.

\n

“There is no substitute for hard work; one needs to make sure that when the time comes they are able to execute their role even under pressure. Every game I go to play out there, I give it my best.”

\n

The Chevrons will surely want Prosper’s best even under a remodelled bowling action.