A common saying that one gets to read all the time is that Cricket needs a stronger and more durable West Indies.
Of course, if it ought to be repeated, then it must be said, for the millionth time, that the West Indies bring an element of dare and fun to the game- provided, they are strong at cricket.
But to tell you a fact, the above is also true for Zimbabwean cricket.
World Cricket needs a strong Zimbabwean team. After all, in its pomp, there’s nothing that Zimbabwe didn’t do or achieve besides having not lifted a World Cup.
It’s a cricketing culture that- before being mired in disruptive, ineffective administration- birthed talents of the class of Andrew Flower. The world often stays in awe of wicket-keeping legends like Dhoni and Gilchrist. Surely, the two would tip their hat to Andy, who was striking double hundreds in the sub-continent when Tendulkar and Lara were at their best.
Zimbabwe Cricket has also produced all-rounders of the class of Heath Streak, Neil Johnson. In his heydays of the 1990s, there was nothing that Johnson, the belligerent left-hander couldn’t do. He could pluck catches out of thin air, take blinders at slips and dislodge stumps.
Mbangwa and Olonga may have had truncated runs in their careers, but they added some excitement to a team that one often forgets locked horns with, and took the Mickey out of outfits such as South Africa and West Indies on its day.
What Zimbabwe- the cricketing equivalent of an amputated limb that can still go a lot many miles- needs is some resuscitation. And to be fair, it seems not only achievable but scalable considering a lot of effort is put in by a quartet that shall, at the end of the day, require complete and unflinching backing: Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, and Sean Williams.
The latter, a batting all-rounder turns 32
What strikes about Sean Williams is that his presence in the lower-middle order is of vital importance to a side that’s often in a desperate search of runs. Particularly, in the five-dayers, this search often becomes a quest.
Having said that, what one doesn’t note about this mild-mannered, mellow-talking batsman is that he’s been around since 2005. It was back in February of 2005 that he debuted against South Africa.
So does it occur to us that Zimbabwe has in its midst a batsman who’s been batting even before Shane Watson and Rohit Sharma arrived in international cricket?
What also doesn’t occur to us as often as it should is that only recently did the left-hander go past 3000 ODI runs. It further doesn’t occur to us that he has scored at an average of 45 in ODIs against the West Indies, 48 against New Zealand, 36 against Afghanistan and, 32 against Bangladesh, respectively.
A player who’s responded brilliantly to ODI rigours
For a batsman who gets into the field by the time perhaps the twentieth over and often beyond, Sean Williams has scored an applause-worthy 1524 of his 3087 ODI runs at number 5.
He’s only played 24 T20s thus far, a small number for a unit that doesn’t quite play T20s at the staggering rate of a Windies, India or England, from which he’s struck 3 fifties and plundered big heaves at over 122.
A fine fielder of his own bowling, a committed all-round cricketer, Sean Williams provides a vital batting cushion, especially during tense situations. That doesn’t mean that he’s not contributed at other positions.
To be fair, one feels, Sean Williams- 58 wickets from 92 bowling innings at an economy of 4.7- hasn’t really got his due. Or has he?
One understands the importance Sean Williams brings to Zimbabwe by visiting his unflinching commitment to a team that desperately seeks revitalising and stability by visiting his numbers at different batting positions.
For the better part of his limited-overs career, having been made to play at number four and number six, Sean Williams scored 754 runs at number 4. He’d collect runs at an average of 29 and in 28 of his 112 innings, he’d score at a strike rate of 76.
Similarly, he was also tried at number six and Sean Williams responded diligently scoring 462 ODI runs at an average of 38 and at a strike rate of 87.
Proving his worth every time he’s been experimented with, Sean Williams has seldom shied away from taking responsibilities and repaying the faith of those who rest on his power to collect vital runs when they stop coming.
The future looks strong if Sean Williams stays around
Whether you put him next to Sikandar Raza, another committed son of Zimbabwe or with Craig Ervine, the trinity being excellent fielders in any position, you cannot stop predicting just what might Zimbabwe become in the coming years with such gifted talent up in their ranks.
While the likes of a Muzarabani are no longer around and promising young careers often seem cut from the umbilical cord that’s attached to Zimbabwean Cricket, there’s plenty of reassurance that not all’s wrong with Zimbabwe given men like Sean Williams are around.
Sean Williams is here to stay. At 31, he’s just at the peak of his powers and experience at the top level. He just needs to carry on, one would note. He needs to continue, just the way he did during the most testing times for his side where on account of their heartbreaking D/L inflicted 3-run loss to UAE, he top-scored with an 80 off as many balls.
Chin-Up Zimbabwe- your future begins with the present. The greatest news for their fans, at this point, is that Sean Williams is back into the side for SA and Bangladesh tours along with Raza and Brendan Taylor.