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Another Price Rise

IN Zimbabwean sports the name ‘Price’ is synonymous with greatness, thanks to the legendary deeds of our former world number one golfer Nick Price, a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee.

Such was the impact on his sporty siblings that Price’s nephew, Raymond, grew up aspiring to be a world-class athlete just like his famous uncle.

Now at a ripe age of 33, Ray has done his bit, albeit in a different sport. Last week after taking six wickets in two ODIs against South Africa, the Zimbabwe left-arm spin bowler shot to number three on the world ODI bowling rankings.

“That has been a goal for me to be in the top five, hopefully I will soon overtake (New Zealand’s) Danny Vettori (the number one bowler)” Price tells IndependentSport. “Obviously the goal as a team is to get back to Test cricket, hope I will still be able to play.”

Price came out of international cricket exile in 2007 after having been part of the “rebels” who clashed with the Zimbabwe board in 2004. His second spell has been as impressive as the first, perhaps even more remarkable having ably assumed the role of a stabilising factor and spiritual leader of a lowly international side.

“Its just my experience, obviously all the experience that I gained playing in places like England; and my first international spell have helped.

“I think it’s important for me to use my experience; help Prosper (Utseya) set fields…yah man…try to help guys when they are under pressure and help them relax.”

The last two tours, which Zimbabwe lost 4-1 and 2-0 against Bangladesh and South Africa respectively, are not a true picture of Zimbabwe’s potential, Price says.

“In Bangladesh we were a little bit unlucky. Losing 3-2 would have been better. There are a lot of little things we are not doing well. But the nice thing now is that we have good coaches back in the fold.

“In South Africa we played well in the first match. Tatenda (Taibu) batted extremely well in the first match, and obviously Stewy Matsikenyeri. Obviously Kyle Jarvis bowled really fast. We haven’t had that for a long time. Quite a lot of guys are improving their games too.”

Price’s ascendancy in the one-day form is much more striking considering that he started his international career at Test level. It took him three years after making his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 1999 to finally convince selectors that he could put pressure on international batsmen in the shorter version.

Ahead of him on the rankings are Vettori and young Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

Yet the Harare-born Price, who suffers from partial deafness owing to the effects of meningitis as a youngster, has remained modest about his style of bowling, which has flight as its forte.

“It’s just the consistency really…and the accuracy,” he says. “Not trying to do much with the ball, getting the ball in the right areas. That’s my job.”

Price and his young spin partner Graeme Cremer have done well for Zimbabwe bowling in tandem, especially in South Africa. He says of Cremer: “He’s got lots of potential. He’s got a lot to give to Zimbabwe. He’s done well in the last series. He bowled really well in that first match in SA. He’s definitely a future star for Zimbabwe. He enjoys the game too, which is good.”

A jovial bloke, Price brings a cheery spirit to the change room. In South Africa he and pace bowler Chris Mpofu celebrated wickets with a foot-contact little dance which left TV commentators in stitches.

“Make sure you enjoy your wickets, they are hard to get!,” he quips. “It happened when we played Kenya and just did it again. I think we need to come up with a new dance!”

During the short stopover in South Africa, Price was almost mugged while going about alone outside the team hotel in Sandton.

“It was my fault,” he says. “I should not have been out by myself in Joburg.”

South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, in the Corridor of uncertainty column, wrote of Price:
“We would like to present Zimbabwe’s Ray Price with one of our occasional awards. Price, who took six wickets in two recent ODIs against the Proteas, wins the “You Brought Joy to Millions” award — the prize: playing in a season of club cricket in Limpopo. Only joking, Ray, the prize could have involved a season playing club cricket in Bulawayo. Seriously, you brought real joy to our hearts with your left arm spin. After you were nearly mugged in the parking lot of your Sandton hotel at the weekend, your comeback in Sunday’s match was remarkable. And that jig? Absolutely priceless!”


Enock Muchinjo

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