Swardeston Cricket Club have pulled off a major coup by signing international Zimbabwe cricketer Brian Murphy as their club coach for the season.
Murphy, 26, has played 11 Tests and 31 one day internationals. The all-rounder played during the recent World Cup but was injured and has now recovered from a calf muscle tear. He was disappointed not to make the Zimbabwe tour party to England.
Murphy was also Zimbabwe captain for a short time during 2001 but after four one-dayers and one Test, he sustained a hand injury and stepped down. Murphy made his Test debut in Port of Spain against the West Indies in March 2000 and his one-day debut during the same trip against Pakistan in Antigua in the Cable and Wireless series.
His last Test was in November 2001 against Bangladesh and his last one day game was in this year’s World Cup against New Zealand at Bloemfontein. Unfortunately, Murphy suffered his injury in the nets ahead of New Zealand’s innings in the Super Sixes and was ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
Despite his omission from the touring party to England, Murphy, who bats right hand and bowls leg breaks, received some solace last week with praise from former top Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower, now playing this season with Essex.
Writing in his Sunday Telegraph column, Flower thought Murphy was unlucky not to be selected. “Craig Wishart is unlucky not to be on the tour. He had made great strides under coach Geoff Marsh. And Brian Murphy, too. He is a genuine wicket-taker who, I think, could have troubled England,” wrote Flower.
And April’s issue of The Cricketer had earmarked Murphy as the probable first-choice slow bowler and vice-captain for the tour.
Swardeston chairman Mark Taylor said: “We are thrilled to have made such an exciting signing. This is proof of our continuing investment in the coaching programme we have successfully established under the guidance of our Director of Coaching David Thomas over the past four years.
“Brian’s arrival this week will give the scheme and our schools programme, not to mention the whole club, a massive boost.”
Murphy, who plays for Mashonaland in Zimbabwe, will coach the club’s three senior sides and three junior teams and will also run the club’s school programme which will sees Swardeston coaching Kwik Cricket in nine junior schools this summer.
Murphy warmed up for the coming English season by top scoring in both innings with 77 and an unbeaten 66 in his latest first-class game in Zimbabwe as Mashonaland beat Midlands. Although EU qualified, the all-rounder will play in Swardeston’s Howes Percival Norfolk Alliance premier division team as his first-class staus prevents him form lining up alongside New Zealander Michael Parlane in the East Anglian Premier League team.
The 31-year-old Kiwi has returned for his third year with Swardeston and has been appointed their EAPL captain for the summer. Parlane replaces Norfolk batsman James Walker, who will be keeping wicket as Matthew Boyden has told the club he will not be returning this season from his round-the-world trip.
Walker, who took over the captaincy following Neil Fox’s departure in 2001, was unanimously re-appointed at the club’s annual meeting last November. However, following Boyden’s news, Walker, who started his career as a wicketkeeper/batsman with Garboldisham and then Norwich, offered to step in behind the stumps. He told the club he felt he could not successfully combine the roles as a leading batsman, wicketkeeper and captain. Instead he will replace Boyden as vice captain.
Parlane flew into the UK this month after another season playing for Northern Districts in New Zealand’s first-class game. On the playing front, Swardeston have also been busy. Young Australian Trevor Hawley has joined and Jeremy Pilch has signed from Norwich Wanderers, Barney Goodrum from Horsford and Ian Tufts has rejoined the club where he started his playing career from Norwich. Promising 13-year-old Bud Bailey has also joined from Bradenham.
On the minus side, apart from Boyden’s absence, Swardeston have lost opening bat Neale Daykin, who has joined the fire service in London, and George Walker’s contract with Leicestershire this summer means he will be unavailable for his club side on Saturdays. Swardeston have also been boosted by the arrival home 10 days ago of key all-rounder Mark Thomas who has also been on a seven-month round-the-world trip with his wife Gillian.
Attendance at the club’s pre-season indoor nets at Norwich School was very good and practice has now moved outside to take advantage of a newly-installed double-bay net at the Hilltops ground in Swardeston. This has been built as a result of the club’s continuing relationship with CEYMS for youth cricket development.