Darlington Majonga, recently in Bangladesh
SEAN Williams’ two consecutive half-centuries in a series where his colleagues had been totally flummoxed by their oppon
ents’ spin would have easily been the left-hander’s happiest moment in his nascent career.
Yet Williams was left a bitter man after his guile with both bat and ball was rendered futile as Zimbabwe snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the decisive match of their best-of-five one-day international series against Bangladesh last week.
The 20-year-old leftie was rewarded for the third ODI’s fastest 50 — off 93 balls — that regrettably could not rescue Zimbabwe whose 26-run defeat handed the series to the hosts who went on to complete a 5-0 whitewash.
The former Under-19 skipper had however been more aggressive in the previous fixture, managing his maiden half-century off 61 balls that together with brilliant fielding and bowling saw him being named man of the match.
His slow left-arm orthodoxy proved useful as he not only managed to stem the flow of runs but ended the series with two wickets.
Williams again emerged his team’s best batsman in Zimbabwe A’s three-wicket loss in a three-day game against Bangladesh A this week with 63 and an unbeaten 32.
“It’s been tough work and it’s really been hard, but I’m beginning to enjoy now,” Williams told IndependentSport. “But I can’t really celebrate because I would have wanted us to win.”
Williams believes Zimbabwe, who have plumbed the depths of despair with 12 ODI losses on the trot, have been bobbinned by a serious dip of confidence and might need at least a year to be competitive again.
“I’ve played with most of the guys from Under-14s, so we’ve been together for quite some time. The talent is there but you can see most of the guys are not confident at all,” he said.
“You can have talent and potential but if you don’t work hard nothing happens. We all really have to work hard and I’m sure it will take us a year before we can be competitive again.”
He added: “We’ve been relying on individuals more than we’ve been relying on each other but we’ve been given a wake-up call. The guys have started to realise it and they know what’s coming if we don’t work hard.”
Williams, who has nine ODI caps under his belt with a batting average of 24.87, might be one of the key players to revive Zimbabwe’s sliding fortunes and he believes his performance in Bangladesh was not a fluke.
“I’m grown up a lot more. I do feel a little bit of pressure but it’s not that much and I can cope and focus,” Williams said.
“My technique suits this subcontinent wicket but I’m definitely not going to be a one-series wonder because I’m dedicated to my career. I work hard and listen to what the coaches say.”
But he admitted he was far from coming of age in international cricket despite his impressive performances.
“Andy Flower is obviously my idol and I want to emulate him or better still achieve more than he did,” Williams said. “But I still have a long way to go and I simply have to work hard if that is to be achievable.”
Williams expressed reservations about the competitiveness of domestic cricket in Zimbabwe, which he said had been badly exposed during the Bangladesh tour.
“Domestic cricket in Zimbabwe hasn’t really been up to scratch, but now it appears the structure is there to give us more play,” Williams said.
“If we had top-class spinners in our league, we would have been used to playing spin and I’m sure we could have handled the Bangladesh spinners.”
Williams said his stay in England had helped improve his game.
“I learnt to play spin in England during my four-and-a-half stay there. It was a good break from Zimbabwe and I learnt how tough it is at a higher level,” he said. “The league I was playing in is much better than our league back home. It was competitive and I hope ours can quickly be better soon.”
Williams said his father Colin — a former first-class cricketer — had cooled down on his stance against him taking up a Zimbabwe Cricket contract.
“My dad means a lot to my whole life and I took up the game after him although I also played hockey which he coached at national level,” Williams said. “I can tell you he is happy with my achievements and all he wants is for me to play cricket and become the best.”
Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran was full of praise of Williams.
“Sean has been magnificent. He has shown a lot of maturity and it’s a positive that has come out of our defeat,” Curran said. “He listens and has been following our game plans.”
Williams, born and bred in Bulawayo, was run out for 12 in his ODI debut against South Africa in February 2005 but is yet to play Test cricket.
He showed his potential with the bat when he amassed 147 runs at 31.40 at the 2004 Under-19 World Cup.