DateLine: 19th October 2005
Travis Friend was one of the 15 rebels whose international careers were curtailed after the dispute over Heath Streakís sacking as Zimbabwe captain in April 2004. His efforts to make a new cricketing life in England with Derbyshire in 2005 were severely hampered by a stress fracture of the back, which meant he could only bowl in the last match of the season. Worryingly, this is an injury which Friend has suffered from before. Friend was able to feature as a specialist batsman on several occasions, and in the championship his strokeplay occasionally looked the part, and in one day cricket he had a rare ability to hit balls to the boundary from the very start of his innings. In his only bowling appearance he displayed the key ability to keep the ball in the block hole when bowling at the death. It is unclear whether Friend will be allowed to resume his career in domestic Zimbabwean cricket. With financial restrictions on non-England qualified players Friend is unlikely to find another English county following his release from Derbyshire. His Test career had shown fitful glimpses of potential, with strong performances against Bangladesh and occasionally against stronger countries, although very few young all-rounders dominate at international level straight away. His role for Zimbabwe had usually been as a frontline quick who could also hit out from no.9, although on the tour to England in 2003 he blazed away with defiant effectiveness as Zimbabwe slid to innings defeats on both occasions, although different innings on that tour had also highlighted his weakness as being a poor starter with the bat. If Friendís bowling recovers to itís former level, and if a favourable political wind blows in Zimbabwe he may yet make more of an impact on the game, although his future is far from certain.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)