David Houghton (cricketer)

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David Houghton
Personal information
Full name David Laud Houghton
Born (1957-06-23) 23 June 1957 (age 57)
Bulawayo, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm off break
Role Batsman, Wicket keeper, coach,
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 8) 18 October 1992 v India
Last Test 25 September 1997 v New Zealand
ODI debut (cap 6) 9 June 1983 v Australia
Last ODI 5 October 1997 v New Zealand
Domestic team information
Years Team
1993–1998 Mashonaland
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 22 63 120 163
Runs scored 1464 1530 7445 4191
Batting average 43.05 26.37 39.39 29.20
100s/50s 4/4 1/12 17/36 1/12
Top score 266 142 266 142
Balls bowled 5 12 149 53
Wickets - 1 2 2
Bowling average - 19.00 29.50 28.50
5 wickets in innings - - 0 -
10 wickets in match - - 0 n/a
Best bowling - 1/19 2/7 1/9
Catches/stumpings 17/– 29/2 165/16 112/11
Source: Cricinfo, 26 August 2011

David Laud Houghton (born 23 June 1957) is a former Zimbabwean Test cricketer. He captained Zimbabwe in their first four Test matches, losing two and drawing two. Zimbabwe won one of the 17 One Day Internationals he was captain for.

Early career[edit]

As a boy he enjoyed being involved in the action all the time, and he continued to play behind the stumps until his early thirties when, as he puts it, he `saw the light'; he had long since ceased to enjoy the job. A painful hand condition caused by the constant battering of the ball was also a major factor.

They lived in a cul-de-sac, which enabled them to play cricket in the street when young. Their parents gave them full support and encouragement in all their sporting activities. They all attended Blakiston Primary School, and in his final year there Dave played for the national junior schools team, known as the Partridges, hitting a couple of fifties against South African provincial teams of the same age.

He attended Prince Edward High School, and scored his first century for the Under-13 team. The following year brought a double-century against Sinoia High School and centuries against Churchill and Mount Pleasant. These brought immediate promotion to the school first eleven. He recalls how fortunate he was in his coaches during those years.

Colin Bland had played a part in his Blakiston years, and now he had Mike Procter and several overseas coaches, as well as Prince Edward coach Rex McCullough. After his schooldays, Peter Carlstein was a major influence.

Dave represented the national Under-15 team, the Fawns, in Johannesburg, and the high schools team in the Nuffield Week in Kimberley, after scoring two or three centuries in his final school year. A fifty against Transvaal B was his only major contribution. He was also a wicket-keeper at that stage.

As a boy he enjoyed being involved in the action all the time and he continued to play behind the stumps until his early thirties when as he puts it. He `saw the light'; he had long since ceased to enjoy the job. A painful hand condition, caused by the constant battering of the ball, was also a major factor.

Domestic career[edit]

In 1984, he received an offer to play for Blossomfield in the Midlands League in England, so he resigned from Rothmans and on his return the Zimbabwe Cricket Union decided to employ him as a professional coach during the local season to enable him to continue as a full-time cricketer. He also played for West Bromwich Dartmouth for three years, and spent three years with Quick in The Hague, Holland.

As far as the first-class game was concerned, Dave made his debut in the Currie Cup for Rhodesia against Transvaal at the Salisbury Police Grounds in 1978/79, at the age of 21. Despite the fact that the Rhodesia B team was adjudged to be first-class and was playing in the B Section, Dave was rather unexpectedly brought into the full national side as a batsman to replace the injured Stuart Robertson.

He retained his place throughout the season and for most of the next in place of Gerald Peckover as wicket-keeper/batsman. Batting low in the order, though, he found it difficult to make many runs, and after two years, when Zimbabwe became independent.

His highest score for the full national side was only 41. His solitary fifty had come for Rhodesia B against Western Province B, when he and his brother Billy added 116 for the eighth wicket in a losing cause.

Whilst competing for Radlett CC against Harrow CC in a Sunday Chess Valley league game (outer London suburban league) was caught at square leg of a cleaverly disguised slower ball out of the back of the hand expertly disguised and bowled by Steven Carroll, who was once described by Scott Muller as an all round Australian journeyman.

International career[edit]

After independence, he usually continued in his dual role, although occasionally played as a batsman only, while Robin Brown kept wicket. However, it was generally agreed that Dave was the better of the two and many judges still rate Dave as Zimbabwe's best keeper since independence. His ability as a hockey goalkeeper stood him in good stead; he had very quick reflexes, was very agile standing back and also achieved some brilliant dismissals when standing up to the stumps.

During the early 1980s Dave and Andy Pycroft was the mainstay of Zimbabwe's batting and frequently had to rescue the team between them after a bad start. Yet Dave reached fifty on 15 occasions before he finally broke through with his maiden first-class century in England in 1985 just before his 28th birthday. He added 277 for the fourth wicket in partnership with Graeme Hick another former Prince Edward pupil who also hit his maiden first-class century. Dave did not feel that he had really established himself in first-class cricket until the age of 33 despite carrying the fragile Zimbabwe batting, along with Pycroft, through most of the eighties. He first established himself in the national side against the Young West Indians of 1981/82, when he scored a gallant 87 against such bowlers as Malcolm Marshall, Wayne Daniel and Hartley Alleyne although facing their slower bowlers for much of his innings. He was approaching his century when he was struck on the cheekbone trying to hook Daniel; with the last man at the crease, he was unable to retire and take a breather, and was out shortly afterwards. In those early days he did appear to have a weakness against genuine pace, not surprising considering the lack of genuinely fast bowlers in the country, but his ability and confidence to handle these bowlers gradually developed over the years. He also tended at times to carry too much weight in his youth but he has kept himself trim since his mid-twenties. Another change in image in recent years has been that from a bushy, curly hairstyle to his present closely cropped head. He batted consistently well over the following years without making any centuries in a representative international match. He opened for a while before going in at number five, just below Pycroft, and many were the valiant fourth-wicket stands in those years after the first three had gone cheaply.

He himself was often out for single-figure innings, but once he settled in he frequently passed fifty. By the time Zimbabwe were playing Test cricket, he proved his ability to convert fifties into hundreds more frequently than his contemporaries.

After his century in England, he took over a year to score another, for a President's XI against a Young West Indian team, and a third the following year, when captaining a Zimbabwe B team against Sri Lanka B. At the age of 32, at the start of the 1989/90 season, his highest score in a representative first-class international match was 96, against Pakistan B in 1986/87. This excludes, though, his brilliant 142 in the World Cup of 1987/88, against New Zealand at Hyderabad in India. Magnificent batting against the medium-pacers and spinners took his team to within sight of a glorious victory, only for Zimbabwe to fall at the final hurdle. Dave rates this as the finest innings of his career, along with his Test double-century. He was becoming increasingly streetwise in big cricket, although admitting that he left it late in his career. Now he always appeared to know where the fielders were, and the best way to fashion a big innings, whatever the situation and conditions. His technique was still in many ways unorthodox, but it suited him and he adapted it well.

He developed the ability to score on both sides of the wicket, always seemed to know where to place the ball, and was well able to improvise, especially against the spinners. He became known as a supremely talented touch player able to decimate any attack on his day.

His first great season came in 1989/90, when he was captain and by his own admission he had finally learnt how to build a big innings. With Pycroft having temporarily retired the Zimbabwe batting was at perhaps its weakest ever.

Thanks to innings of 165 out of 344 for nine wickets declared and 56 not out, Zimbabwe managed to draw the first unofficial Test against another Young West Indian team.

The tourists struck back in the second match to win by an innings, with Houghton scoring 36 out of 106 and 48 out of 102. He missed the third accepting an invitation to play in an exhibition game in Toronto and Zimbabwe succumbed in his absence to another innings defeat. Against England A, he was helped by the return of Pycroft and the general improvement in morale due to the ICC decision to play Zimbabwe's unofficial Tests over five days. His 108 in the first match were followed by his first double-century a fine 202 in Bulawayo. Since then, he has never looked back, and further centuries came against Pakistan B and Australia B.

Dave was appointed captain of the national team in 1985/86 but held the job for only one year before resigning by his own admission he did not find it easy to communicate with the players under him, especially when he had to keep wicket and play the role of leading batsman as well. He was considered by some not to be tough enough to captain a team easily. In his youth he had at times lived a rather bohemian lifestyle and was still very much one of the boys.

However, he had become a superb tactician with the ability to read a game and an excellent eye for an opponent's strengths and weaknesses and was to be a pillar of strength for several other captains under whom he served and whose tactics he regularly influenced.

In 1989/90, with the absence of Andy Waller through injury and the absence of any other senior player who wanted the job, he was appointed again against England A and kept the job until 1993/94, when he handed over to Andy Flower who was now ready to assume the role.

So it was that Dave led Zimbabwe into their first-ever Test match against India in 1992/93. This was to be a memorable occasion for Zimbabwe, who had the better of that match against India but even more so for Dave himself who became the first player to score a century on his Test debut when captain as well and only the second to score a century for his country in its inaugural Test. The first centurion was Charles Bannerman for Australia in the very first Test of all, in 1876/77.

He hit a chanceless 121 from 322 balls, batting for almost seven hours, and it was an emotional moment for the home crowd when he pulled a ball through midwicket to reach his historic century.

He struck another purple patch when the Sri Lankans toured Zimbabwe two years later. After warming up with 58 in the First Test, he christened the Queens Ground in Bulawayo in its first Test match with a superb 266, an individual Zimbabwean Test record that may well remain unbeaten for many years. Then he scored 142 in the Third Test.

By the time the tour to Australia for the World Series Cup came round that season, Dave had the remarkable record of having played in every one of Zimbabwe's Tests and official one-day internationals, but he missed his first one in Australia, returning home in time for Christmas to be with his family, who have had to endure much separation from him over the years.

Then he missed the 1996 World Cup after breaking a toe during the course of an invaluable Test century in New Zealand. Finally he was forced to miss Test matches for the first time and the two in Sri Lanka which coincided with his Worcestershire duties at the end of the English season in 1996.

In conditions blatantly prepared to suit the home team's spinners, this was the tour for which Zimbabwe could least afford to lose him.

To Dave goes the greatest credit for Zimbabwe's fine performances against England in the 1996/97 series. He knew most of the England players quite well from his time at Worcestershire but he recognized Mike Atherton and Darren Gough as the two key players in that team.

By concentrating their attention on pitching the ball well up to Atherton and swinging it early in his innings, before he got his feet moving, the Zimbabweans ensured that the England captain scored few runs on the tour, and they concentrated on keeping Gough at bay. Dave made no high scores against the English, but batted consistently, often frustratingly getting out when he seemed well set.

Prior to the Test series, he had made big scores in virtually every match, so he considers it a strange season from a personal point of view. He felt in good form, but never really capitalized in the international matches. It was clear that he still had a great deal of cricket left in him and a great deal still to offer.

Retirement[edit]

In December 1997 brought the end of an era for cricket in Zimbabwe, as Dave Houghton, at the age of 40 the oldest and one of the most remarkable players in international cricket, announced his retirement.

He may well go down on record as the biggest single contributor to cricket in the country. He has made an immense contribution to the game, scoring at the time of his retirement not far short of twice as many runs for the country as the next best.

Dave gave three main reasons for his retirement. The immediate reason was that he had been battling with nagging back and knee injuries, mostly niggles which troubled him the next morning after a long day in the field.

This was particularly unfortunate, because his expertise against the home team's spin bowlers in conditions that favoured them would have been absolutely invaluable. Secondly, he had been so busy with his job as the national team coach that he had had insufficient time to concentrate on his own game.

Finally, he felt especially with the return of Murray Goodwin that Zimbabwe had enough young batsmen of high calibre and that he should not stand in the way of their progress. Since retiring as a player, Houghton has gone on to become a coach and commentator.

Dave has plunged himself into new initiatives in the cause of Zimbabwe cricket. For years there had been talk of starting a proper Zimbabwe Cricket Academy, rather along the lines of the Australian Academy, but nothing had actually been done about it.

After leaving Worcestershire he decided the time had come to take the initiative. He organised much fund-raising, most notably doing a sponsored walk himself from Bulawayo to Harare, and secured sponsors from numerous commercial organisations.

He was involved in securing a ground at Country Club in Harare, and the new academy, which opened in January 1999, is a tribute to him and would not be in existence today without his efforts.

He appeared for umpiring exams and considers this a possibility, or perhaps to stand as a match referee.

Coaching career[edit]

As a coach[edit]

As coach, he has brought new, interesting methods into practice, and the national players speak very highly of him; many of them consider him their mentor.

Dave sees his future as continuing to be involved in cricket in one form or another. He does not plan to stay on as national coach for more than another two or three years, feeling that the players by then will have become bored with him and will need someone with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

Worcestershire career[edit]

During his four years at the helm of the English county side, Houghton steered them from 14th in 1994, to third position in the national county league, at the time of his departure in 1997.

Worcestershire was also very sorry to lose him; during Dave's four years there they won the NatWest Trophy once, in 1994, but his final season was marred by rain which frequently frustrated the team when in a good position in a match. However, they have a strong squad now and Dave expects them to win more trophies in the near future.

Zimbabwe career[edit]

In 1996 he was named the coach of Zimbabwe national side, in succession to John Hampshire. Very quickly he made his mark on both teams, but the jobs tended to conflict, and in 1997 the Zimbabwe Cricket Union persuaded him to become the country's national coach full-time, as well as to continue as a player.

It was good that he finally reached a suitable agreement with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, as he had had difficulties with them in the past and actually announced his retirement in 1993/94, only to reverse his decision when they finally attended to his grievances.

Despite an uninformed rumour that he had retired from one-day internationals, Dave continued to play a full part as a player for Zimbabwe against the New Zealand tourists.

However, he dropped lower in the batting order, at his own request, so as to give extra experience and responsibility to the younger players whom he hoped would be his successors.

Against the New Zealand tourists, as against England, he made no high scores, although his strokeplay was as superb as ever. He had a tendency to give his wicket away unnecessarily through faulty stroke selection but no doubt physical and mental tiredness after a hard season at Worcester played a part as well as the fact that his duties as coach prevented him from paying as much attention as he would have liked to his own game.

He proved fallible in the slips and retired to the outfield in the Second Test, but he still managed to effect a vital run-out through sharp fielding. There was no indication that this was to be his farewell to international cricket.

His first tour as full-time coach was relatively simple, to Kenya to take part in a triangular one-day series also involving Bangladesh. Zimbabwe played fine cricket determined not to slip up against the two associate members, and won all six games easily, including the two finals against Kenya.

Sri Lanka and New Zealand were to prove a much stiffer Test. The nadir was the infamous Second Test at Colombo, where in the vital fourth innings the umpires rejected numerous Zimbabwean appeals to allow Sri Lankan batsmen Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga to bat on until they had won for Sri Lanka a match that Zimbabwe had dominated from the start.

Dave commented at a press conference that he felt 'the umpires had raped us', and was duly fined by the ICC and banned from attending his team's concluding matches on that tour.

Dave said that he made this comment with his eyes open, knowing he would be fined, but felt it necessary to let the rest of the world know just what had happened. He was able to send to the ICC ample video-tape evidence to prove his point.

This match had a shattering effect on Zimbabwe's morale and they performed very poorly in New Zealand, the batsmen in particular. After his team had lost by an innings to New Zealand A and then slumped to 140 for six against Canterbury, Dave felt so frustrated he didn't trust himself to speak to his players at the close of play.

However, he did get his message across temporarily, as Alistair Campbell and Paul Strang proceeded to set up a new Zimbabwean seventh-wicket record and they won that match by an innings. But the tour itself ended with six defeats and only one narrow victory in the international matches.

He remained coach until 2000 and was replaced by Andy Pycroft. He also coached them in 1999 World Cup where the reached Super8. The most memorable highlights of his career included the team's win of the Test series in Pakistan at the end of 1998.

In 2009, he was in the race to become the head coach of the Zimbabwe but he was appointed as director of national coaching.

CFX Cricket Academy[edit]

After he resigned from head of coach of Zimbabwean national cricket team, he became a head coach of CFX Cricket Academy in 2000. He remained there until 2002.

He left the country to take up a commentary position with Sky TV in the United Kingdom, where he covered first class cricket in the English county championships. Houghton will also be playing league cricket.

Derbyshire career[edit]

He joined the club in September 2003, although he was unable to make an immediate impact, as Derbyshire finished second-from-bottom in both the Championship and the one-day league.

After another gloomy year of underachievement in 2004, Derbyshire have at last got something to celebrate, after their director of cricket, Dave agreed to an extension of his contract which will keep him at the club until the end of 2007.

He quite the post in 2007 before his contract with the county expires only at the end of 2007. Derbyshire in 2007 season was languishing in the fifth spot of the second division of the County Championship. They have won only two of their nine one-day matches and none of their Twenty20 Cup games.

The 2006 season was no better as they finished fifth in the county championship one-day tournament and the Twenty20 Cup and a miserable eighth in the Pro40.

In 2011, he returned the batting coach of Derbyshire. In 2013, he become the first casualty of Derbyshire's cost-cutting drive after being told he was not be retained as a batting consultant for the 2014 season.

Under him in 2012/13 season, Derbyshire's batting was carried by captain Wayne Madsen who made 1221 runs at 43.60 in the Championship with the next best being Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 884 at 38.43.

The crop of young batsmen failed to score consistently like Chesney Hughes hit an unbeaten 270 but made just 342 runs in his other 19 innings. Outside of Madsen, Chanderpaul and Hughes there was not a century from the other batsmen.

Link-up Bangladesh[edit]

He was sounded out by the Bangladesh board this June to be their national coach but at that time Houghton was reluctant to take up the job as he had relocated his family to England from Zimbabwe. Dave has pulled out of the race for the post of Bangladesh coach citing family reasons.

"He wants to stay with his father, who is about 85 years old," Gazi Ashraf, the chairman of the BCB's cricket operations committee, said. "So it is unlikely for us to get him now."

Personal life[edit]

Dave was born in Bulawayo, the youngest of three brothers, but the family soon moved to Salisbury. Each of the brothers was a fine sportsman in a very sports-oriented family Ken the oldest played hockey for Zimbabwe, while Billy also played first-class cricket for Rhodesia B in the Currie Cup B Section.

Records[edit]

  • Fastest Zimbabwean test cricketer to reach 1000 test runs(24 innings).[1]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Zimbabwean national cricket captain
1992/3
Succeeded by
Andy Flower