BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Top Zimbabwean cricket umpire Langton Rusere made a huge bow in his international career after he handled his first big match, a thrilling one-day international (ODI) tie between hosts New Zealand and subcontinent giants India in Hamilton yesterday.
It was a high-scoring encounter in which the hosts successfully chased down a 348 target to win by four wickets with 11 balls to spare.
New Zealand takes a 1-0 lead of a three-match bilateral series.
But the Zimbabwean official who had 12 low profile ODI matches under his belt before the New Zealand-India match, also provided a talking point during the epic battle. Rusere made a bad decision on his big stage debut when he wrongly gave New Zealand opener Henry Nicholls early in the hosts’ chase.
Mohammad Shami had beaten Nicholls with some in-swing on the third delivery of the fourth over and ball hit his pads.
The Indians made a half-hearted appeal, Rusere shockingly ruled the decision in their favour, but the decision had to be overturned after Nicholls opted for a review.
Nicholls, who had scored just five runs at the time of the incident went on to record his 10th ODI half-century before getting run-out to a brilliant piece of fielding by India captain Virat Kohli.
Despite the howler, the umpire who hails from Masvingo province, 292km south of Harare, continues to raise the country’s flag high on the international scene after handling his biggest ODI match since his debut when Zimbabwe hosted Afghanistan in October 2015.
Rusere made history in 2018 when he became the first Zimbabwean umpire to stand in the final of a major global cricket tournament as one of the on-field umpires for the Women’s World T20 final between Australia and England.
The 34-year-old official was reportedly dropped from the ICC panel after Zimbabwe’s brief ban from the game last year and missed out on umpiring during West Indies-India series.
This is the fifth global tournament he has now officiated, having also taken part in the World Cup qualifier 2018 held in Zimbabwe and the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year.
Since joining the ICC panel in 2015, Rusere was part of the umpiring team at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh as well as at the 2017 Women’s World Cup staged in England.
He has also officiated at the Caribbean Premier League.
Rusere was beaten to the 2019 ANSA Technical Official of the Year award by Sarah Bennett last week after making it to the nominees list.