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Brian Bennett celebrates his record first-class double century on Friday, helping Mountaineers clinch the Logan Cup title


Making a tough decision in pursuit of a dream



PRESSURE of choosing sport over more orthodox endeavours of life come in different forms.


But Brian Bennett’s choice would appear harder than most because he had to sacrifice something treasured in a lot of Zimbabwean homes – education.

While his twin brother David went off to university, Brian decided he would stay and stake a claim for a place in Zimbabwe’s senior cricket team.

The 20-year-old brothers played together for Zimbabwe at the 2022 Under-19 World Cup in the West Indies, but David has opted for the lecture-room instead of the cricket field. He is now studying Real Estate at Cirencester Royal Agricultural University in England.

His twin had to decide, and pretty quick.

Backing himself always since he started playing the game – and with the big dream of becoming a professional cricketer – Brian constantly reminded himself that he still needed to put in many hours of hard work within the group and on his own.

Importantly, behind the rising Zimbabwe batsman is a very supportive family.

“On the back of a successful Under-19 World Cup in the West Indies, and positive feedback from his coach Prosper Utseya, we managed to secure an offer with (Mutare-based franchise) Mountaineers,” mother Sarah Bennett told The NewsHawks on Saturday.

“On this, we decided as a family to support him with his cricketing future.”

Bennett has played just six T20Is for Zimbabwe so far, his big breakthrough coming exactly a month after his 20th birthday. He had a subdued debut series against Ireland in Harare in December, but his real potential started to come out on the tour of Sri Lanka at the beginning of this year in a losing cause for the Chevrons.

Right-hander Bennett plays a full array of shots and times the ball superbly, much to the great entertainment of hundreds of spectators who witnessed his raw talents for Peterhouse College at the CABS St George’s College T20 festival in 2022.

He is a more composed batsman now, markedly patient, as testified by his undefeated 264 this weekend in Harare to help Mountaineers thump Mashonaland Eagles by an innings and 123 runs to become 2023-04 Logan Cup champions. Bennett, with this feat, becomes the youngest Zimbabwean to score a first-class double century.

The twins were born in Harare and brought up in Goromonzi just outside the capital city, both representing Zimbabwe Schools in hockey and squash. The respected junior cricket coach Julian Ndlovu had a huge influence on young Brian at Ruzawi Junior School. Moving across Marondera for senior school at Peterhouse, former Zimbabwe player and coach Andy Waller refined Bennett’s rougher edges.

“We are extremely proud that he has been able to represent his country,” added Sarah Bennett. “We look forward to the journey ahead.”

Seeing that he is able to last long innings as shown by that knock for Mountaineers, that journey mum speaks about looks likely to be long as well, and exciting.