While they’ve not always been the most competitive of cricket nations, Zimbabwe have produced some very special players over their history. Here are 12 of the best.
Top 10 Zimbabwe Cricketers Of All Time
While this list isn’t in any specific order, there will be many who feel that Andy Flower is the greatest cricketer that Zimbabwe has ever produced. When we look at his statistics, it’s certainly hard to argue against that theory.
He was a world class wicket keeper / batsman who could have slotted into any country’s line up at the height of his career. His figures speak for themselves: in 63 test matches, Flower made just under 4,800 runs at a superb average of 51.54. His best of 232 is one of only four test double hundreds made by Zimbabwe batters.
He scored heavily in ODI cricket too, while his competent wicket keeping would merit a place in the side on its own.
While Andy Flower may have been Zimbabwe’s greatest ever batsman, Heath Streak was surely their best all-rounder. He was another mainstay of both the test and limited overs sides and was a regular in both from his debut in 1993 through to his final game in 2005.
Streak scored almost 5,000 international runs and made some useful contributions with the bat, but he was more effective with ball in hand. He is still Zimbabwe’s leading wicket taker in two formats with 216 victims in tests and 237 in ODIs.
While his brother Andy claimed all the headlines, Grant Flower could still impress with important displays for his team. He was a part of Zimbabwe’s golden era, playing internationally from 1992 to 2004.
He will mostly be remembered for his batting, scoring over 10,000 runs in two formats with 12 hundreds and a best in tests of 201. Grant Flower’s bowling action would come under scrutiny, but he also managed to take 109 wickets with his left arm spin.
An effective young wicket keeper / batsman, Tatenda Taibu called time on his cricket career when he left to focus on the church at the age of 29. He’d already made a mark on the game by that point, but there was a feeling that there was so much more to come.
Taibu was exceptionally gifted behind the stumps while also scoring useful runs. He made over 5,000 international runs in the three formats, with three centuries and a best of 153.
Tatenda Taibu is also one of the few Zimbabwe players to feature in the IPL, having been on the Kolkata Knight Riders’ books in 2008.
When Zimbabwe’s greatest ever team began to break up, they ceased to be competitive as a unit, and only a few players remained as international class talents. Tatenda Taibua was one of those, while Brendan Taylor played for longer in the Zimbabwe set up.
Taylor made his debut in 2004 and played his final game in an ODI against Ireland in 2021. During that time, he was one of few Zimbabwe batters who could compete against the bigger sides. He retired with 9938 international runs to his name, including 17 centuries and a best of 171.
He’ll be more widely known outside of Zimbabwe as England’s successful Ashes-winning coach, but Duncan Fletcher enjoyed an impressive playing career. He played six official ODIs for the country, all of which came at the 1983 World Cup in England.
Zimbabwe hadn’t received full ICC status at that time, but that 1983 side managed to pull off one of the biggest shocks in limited overs international cricket. As team captain, Duncan Fletcher top scored with 69 and took four wickets as his team beat Australia by 13 runs in an early group game.
Zimbabwe haven’t produced too many great fast bowlers, but Neil Johnson is up there with the best. He may not have been blessed with natural pace, but he was quick enough and he backed up his bowling skills with additional aggression.
Johnson was useful with the bat too and was a genuine all rounder, making five international centuries – one in tests and four in ODIs. His bowling produced 50 wickets across the two formats.
Sadly, after a dispute with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, Neil Johnson called time on his international career in 2000 at a time when he had much more to offer.
Henry Olonga was among the quickest bowlers that Zimbabwe have ever produced. He may not have had much to offer with the bat, but that wasn’t an issue as the team were happy to let him concentrate on his bowling skills.
Olonga wouldn’t let the side down: He claimed 116 wickets in just 80 matches across two formats, with a best in ODIs of 6/19. Sadly, after his brave stance against the ‘death of democracy’ at the 2003 World Cup, Henry Olonga never played for Zimbabwe again.
Another cricketer who went into coaching when his playing days were over, David Houghton was a member of the Zimbabwe team who stunned Australia at the 1983 World Cup. Houghton was the wicket keeper that day and he did go on to enjoy a long career after Zimbabwe were granted full test status.
He was a competent stumper and an exceptional batsman who averaged more than 42 in tests. David Houghton scored 2994 runs with five hundreds and his top score of 266 against Sri Lanka is the highest by a Zimbabwean in tests.
Elegant left handed batter Alistair Campbell seemed set for a successful career after he became the youngest Zimbabwe player to score a first class century. He was such an exceptional talent that he was picked for the 1992 World Cup squad at the age of just 19.
Campbell may have struggled in that 1992 tournament, but he recovered to become an effective batter at the top of the order. He played in 60 tests and 188 ODIs, scoring over 8,000 international runs with nine centuries and a top score of 131.
Murray Goodwin was a competitive batsman who stood out during a difficult time for Zimbabwe cricket. He appeared very briefly for the team between 1998 and 2000, before moving to Australia after his family couldn’t settle.
Goodwin certainly made an international impression in a short period of time. He played in 19 tests, scoring 1414 runs with three centuries and an impressive average of 42.54. He also scored 1818 runs in 71 One Day Internationals.
Andy Blignaut was primarily a bowler, but he could also score quickly and was particularly useful as an all rounder in limited overs cricket. His best returns came with the ball where his quick medium pace secured 103 wickets across two formats.
Blignaut didn’t make an international century, but his run scoring helped Zimbabwe at times. In 74 international games, he made 11 half centuries and his best score was a 92, made against the West Indies in a test match in Harare in 2001.
There was very much a golden period for Zimbabwe cricket and it came around the mid-1990s to the very early 2000s. At that point in their history, the country could have competed with any other team in most formats.
Once again, it’s a list that could have been opened up for debate. Could Hamilton Masakadza or Sean Ervine have been included? Moving forward, will the likes of Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza break into the top 12? It’s all about having options, so do feel free to leave some thoughts.