Aussie pilot Naqvi targets Test debut for Zimbabwe after joining cricket’s 300 club

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Belgian-born Australian Antum Naqvi has made cricket history in Zimbabwe with his triple ton. CREDIT: Zimbabwe Cricket

A high-flying Australian club cricketer who once dreamed of wearing the baggy green is now targeting a Test debut for Zimbabwe after scoring the first-ever, first-class triple century for a domestic team there.

Antum Naqvi, a Belgian-born and Sydney-raised airline pilot, has become the talk of cricket in Zimbabwe after taking a gamble on going to the African nation to play cricket and spending a run-laden year playing there for Mid West Rhinos.

His soaring form culminated on Friday when the 24-year-old Naqvi blasted 300 not out for the Rhinos against Matabeleland Tuskers in the country’s Logan Cup, the only triple-ton ever recorded in Zimbabwe’s first-class competition.

Now there are moves there for Brussels-born Naqvi, who’s scored seven hundreds in white-ball and red-cricket over the past year and is averaging 102 in the first-class game, to be fast-tracked to play Test cricket for Zimbabwe’s national team, ‘the Chevrons’.

“I’d grab the chance with both hands,” he said, when asked by reporters if he would be interested in playing internationally for Zimbabwe.

Certainly, the national governing body there sounded pretty keen, putting out a social media post celebrating Naqvi joining the 300 club with the declaration: “What a milestone from Antum Naqvi … Take a bow.”

Antum Naqvi

It was a remarkable knock at his home ground in Harare, the triple coming off just 295 balls after seven hours and 24 minutes at the crease and the landmark being reached with Naqvi’s 10th six after he’d also scored 30 fours.

The previous best score in the Logan Cup had been the 299 scored by Zimbabwean Brian Davison 50 years ago, before the competition was designated as first-class competition.

It left Naqvi, who’s put his commercial aviation career on hold while pursuing his cricketing ambitions, to talk of his elation at being a record breaker again.

For last year, he had also joined an elite band of just 23 others who’d scored hundreds in both their first two first-class games.

Naqvi has dreamed of playing Test cricket since he was a young teen meeting Australia star Steve Smith.

He’s shone in Sydney grade cricket but was persuaded to take on his African adventure after another spell making a hatful of runs playing club cricket in Darwin at Tracy Village alongside Australian-based, former Zimbabwe international Solomon Mire.

“I scored back-to-back hundreds, and then another hundred, but I wasn’t getting the opportunity (in Australia) so Solomon said ‘hey, look, why don’t you try Zimbabwe? They are looking for players, so go there’,” he told Zimbabwean podcast, Dean At Stumps.

“And this is how I ended up at the Rhinos.”

He’s not looked back, his trip having been partly funded by his cricket-loving father Zubair, with the clamour growing for him to be fast-tracked into the Chevrons’ set-up.

“Definitely if the opportunity arises for anything in Zimbabwe cricket, I would grab it with two hands,” said Naqvi. “I’m very committed and ready right now.”

 

 

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