By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CORNWOOD have signed Zimbabwean international Tarisai Musakanda as club player-coach for next summer’s return to the Premier Division.
Musakanda was the pro at A Division rivals Budleigh Salterton CC last season, performing well with both bat and ball. He missed the first and last games of the season but in the 16 between made 846 runs and took 29 wickets.
Musakanda caught the eye of Cornwood players and supporters alike, with an impressive innings on club President’s Day.
Knowing Tary consistently performed on Devon tracks made it a simple decision to offer him a contract.
Musakanda is currently playing Provincial Premier Grade cricket for New City CC in New South Wales for whom he is the leading run scorer with 291 so far in all forms of cricket.
Cornwood got promoted without an overseas professional last season, which had plusses and minuses for skipper Matt Skeemer.
The plus was home-grown players were largely responsible for winning the division. The minus was those afternoons when bowling and fielding got them over the line despite having too few runs on the board.
“We realise that our batting was not consistently strong last season, and the step up to Premier Division means we most certainly have to strengthen in that area,” said Skeemer.
“We intend Tary to play a pivotal role in our batting line up, and have introduced added strength by signing experienced batsman David Ball (ex-Lewdown and Tavistock) as a regular opener.”
Cornwood have already signed Josh Coker as a strike bowler, to replace last seasons DCL leading wicket taker Craig James, who has moved back to New Zealand permanently.
A further sign of Cornwood’s intent to compete at Premier Division level, sees the experienced, former club pro Jackson Thompson, returning to Oak Park for 2020.
Heathcoat’s 2019 title-winning captain will provide Skeemer with a serious all rounder option. Thompson was at Cornwood the last time they were in the Premier Division in 2016 and his return will undoubtedly generate a real buzz around the club.
The recruitment drive has not finished yet as the club is also hoping to attract a few additional players, aspiring to play Premier cricket, who will be able to contribute to the 2nd XI squads’ push for a promotion spot in C Division West.
“Having a strong second team, providing competition for 1st XI places will provide us with the strong foundation we need to establish ourselves in the Premier Division,” said Skeemer.
Musakanda will have a coaching role around the club, which runs four men’s teams, a ladies side, and colts teams from under-nine to under-15.
Ladies and girls’ cricket is expanding and indoor training has already started.
Nick Goodliffe, the colts manager, has already briefed junior team managers and coaches that Tary will be contributing with coaching activities across the club.
“We have a thriving colts division at the club and for 2020 we are determined to apply more effort in certain coaching directions,” said Goodliffe.
“Signing Tary will help us to fulfil that mission and we have also lined up experienced cricket coach Mark Roca to lead training sessions on Friday club nights,” added Goodliffe.