Previous interview with PJ Moor:
One of the most positive features in Zimbabwe cricket this season has been the sudden rise of the 24-year-old MidWest Rhinos batsman PJ Moor.
After several seasons of averaging between 20 and 30 runs in first-class cricket, Moor has already scored 620 runs this season, including his first three centuries, at an average of 56.36, and looks set to be called up to the national side in the near future.
PJ, as he is called to distinguish him from his father, who is also Peter, has always been an exciting batsman to watch, as he plays positively and always seeks to dominate the bowling with his powerful strokes. But this season he has shown a new maturity and determination. So what has brought about the difference?
“I put in a lot of work last season, but mentally I wasn’t tough enough,” PJ admits. “I was getting frustrated and finding ways of getting out in silly ways. This season I’ve worked just as hard, but I’ve also worked on the mental side of the game a lot more. You may recall I used to play a lot of rash shots early on, to try and settle my nerves. Now I’ve adjusted and give myself more of a chance to get in before I start taking on bowlers. And it seems to be working at the moment!
“I have to thank Mr (Robin) Brown (former national opening batsman and now coach at MidWest Rhinos), and what I’ve learned from Grant Flower and Davy Houghton in the past regarding batting. What they have taught me, I’m just working extra hard at doing, treating my practices like they’re games.”
PJ has played a lot of cricket in the last few months, thanks to a season in England and also to Zimbabwe A matches against touring teams. Of all the bowlers he has faced in that time, whom does he rate most highly?
“I think the best bowler was Taijul Islam, that (Bangladeshi) left-arm spinner. I think the way I took him on in the first four-day game, he actually sat out the second four-day game because his stats weren’t so good. When he came on to bowl, I knew he was one of the better bowlers and I tried to be positive against him, and it came off. I hit him straight down the ground over his head. Obviously the Bangladeshis didn’t know anything about me and that’s one of my strengths; he kept it up to me and I just kept hitting him over the top. I hit him down the ground two or three times for six, and he had to change his game plan because of that.”
After the Bangladesh A tour, as a matter of interest, the Zimbabwe chairman of selectors, Kenyon Ziehl, asked their coach which of the local players impressed him the most, and he named three: batsmen PJ and Ryan Burl, and seamer Donald Tiripano.
And which of Zimbabwe’s bowlers does he find most challenging at the moment? “Trevor Garwe has been very good in the domestic cricket I’ve played, and also Donald Tiripano has been outstanding, both for Zimbabwe A stuff and last week in our match against the Mountaineers; he was an absolute handful.”
PJ also keeps wicket for MidWest Rhinos at present. Last season he did not always look the part, but there is a clear improvement this year. Does he feel keeping wicket affects his batting in any way?
”I don’t think so,” he says. “That’s something I’ve worked on a lot. I think I’ve spent more time keeping than batting, and I think my two or three months overseas helped a lot, because I kept every game there. I played a lot for the Surrey second team, the M.C.C. and my club side, Weybridge. Obviously there the ball swings a lot more after it has pitched, so you have to work on the basics, which has helped me a lot, and I’m much more confident keeping this season.”
Does PJ feel ready for international cricket yet? “Most definitely,” he asserts with confidence. “I think if there’s ever a time I feel ready to put my hand up, it’s now.”