Shingirai Masakadza, younger brother of Hamilton, was one of the worthy but unlucky players to be omitted from the Zimbabwe squad to the 2015 International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup, despite being included in that competition four years ago.
To many, he has not seemed quite at his best this season, which would explain his omission. However, in the last few weeks, he seems to have recovered the zip in his seam bowling, and also made good runs with the bat, especially in a crisis.
Masakadza himself does not really accept that his form has been below usual.
“I wouldn’t exactly say so,” he says. “Sometimes statistics don’t give a true impression of what is going on.”
However, the view is based on watching him in action, not just on his statistics!
“On a lot of occasions I haven’t been so lucky, especially with the ball. I don’t think as a team we (the Mountaineers) have caught so well, and that’s been one of the things that have brought downfall to the team.
“I think there is a bit of fatigue as well. It’s been quite a busy last 12 months or so, and now when the games have been crammed up as well, I’ve had to give myself a lot of time to rest up between games, so I reserve my energies for those games,” he explained.
Masakadza went to Bangladesh with the Zimbabwe squad, but he only played in one Test match, without success.
Otherwise: “Bangladesh I thought was good, but perhaps on the negative side I did not quite bring out of that tour what I wanted to bring out of it. I only played one Test match during the whole tour, which was a bit of a disappointment to me.”
About his bowling, Masakadza says, “The wickets generally have given me quite a bit in the first innings on certain occasions, but then they just become slow. It’s all about looking to take wickets by creating pressure, bowling lots of dot balls and trying to stay in the right area. I obviously look to strike with the new ball, trying to nick off guys early on and get them l-b with that surprise ball that comes back. That is one thing I have improved on over the last couple of seasons, that I have been able to swing the ball both ways, which has been a big plus to my game.”
Masakadza began this match at Kwekwe Sports Club, for Mountaineers against MidWest Rhinos, with three quick wickets, to break through the home side’s top order.
“That was good for us, but when we get a team in a similar position, we haven’t been able to capitalise every time. I think we can improve as a team on occasions like that. Having a team two down and then having the next partnership over 100 – I thought we could have done a little bit better on the fielding front. I thought we gave away too many singles, which allowed the batsmen to play themselves in,” he said.
On the second day, Masakadza found his side in trouble and in danger of being forced to follow on, when he went in to bat.
“Obviously in a four-day game I’ve been looking to play time, but it was a lot different today, batting with the tail. We had lost quick wickets, so I looked to capitalise on any loose deliveries and try to put runs on the scoreboard, try to avoid the follow-on, and we did that well. I think we’ve put ourselves in a position where we are still in the game,” he said.
The pitch was crumbling, although it was only the second day of the match: “Some balls were difficult, a lot of inconsistency in bounce. The spinners’ balls, some were gripping, some were staying low, and the seamers, some were coming through and some were just sticking on the wicket. It’s not easy to bat on there; you had to wait for the really bad ball.”
To score a fifty on that pitch must count as one of his best innings? “Yes, definitely. I think I was hitting the ball well, and I’m hoping I can translate that into the one-day game.”
Which stroke did he enjoy the most? “The straight six off Munyede!”
That was a magnificent powerful drive that struck the sightscreen just next to long off.
And which of the bowlers bowled the best to him? “I thought Neville (Madziva) bowled some tight lines, and so did Carl (Mumba), attacking the stumps. Sitting on the side watching the game, you can come up with a plan. I had seen a couple of guys getting out bowled and l-b, so I said to myself, when I get out there I must stay nice and balance, and look to play balls that are on my three stumps only.”
How does Masakadza see his future in cricket, now he is 28, a cricketer’s prime? “It was obviously a big disappointment not being part of the World Cup squad, but that’s part of sport, and every single time something like that happens to you I think it’s always important not to look at it as a negative, but try and turn those things into positives. I’m looking to bounce back strongly, so I’ll keep on working on my game, and when I get the opportunity I can prove myself.”