FOR somebody who says very little, preferring to let his work do the talking, comparing somebody to the great ex-Zimbabwe cricketer Andy Flower is a big statement from Johnson Marumisa.
The man known for his brutal assault on bowlers on the domestic scene — forcing his way into Zimbabwe’s squad for the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 entirely because of that feared aggression — Marumisa’s international career did not however last long as his early promise suggested.
After those limited opportunities at the top playing level, Marumisa has in the past few years retreated to a rather inconspicuous role, but no less important, as the cricket guru at his alma mater and key developmental centre of the sport in this country, Churchill High School.
For two years at Churchill, 37-year-old Marumisa coached teenage all-rounder Wesley Madhevere, seen these days as the brightest prospect in Zimbabwean cricket.
The 19-year-old Madhevere, fresh from the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, has made a positive start to international cricket with 35 and 52 runs in his first two ODIs for Zimbabwe’s senior team, currently on tour to Bangladesh.
With Zimbabwe losing the only Test to Bangladesh heavily and now desperate to avoid a whitewash defeat in the ODI series, Madhevere has been a bright spot of the out-of-sorts African side in the subcontinent.
“His work ethic reminds me a lot of Andy Flower,” Marumisa told IndependentSport this week. “He is a prodigious talent, and as a nation we really must feel very excited about him. He doesn’t stop working. When I coached this kid at Churchill, I had never felt so challenged as a coach. He was hungry for knowledge. When a youngster shows that kind of attitude to you as a coach, you naturally respond positively, keen to pass on all the stuff you have to this youngster.”
A young player who pretty much does everything on a cricket field, Marumisa though describes Madhevere — who hails from Chitungwiza — as a batting all-rounder.
“He is an aggressive player, an attacking player,” said Marumisa. “The 52 he scored in that second match (against Bangladesh) was off 57 balls, which just shows you the kind of a stroke-maker he is. He definitely has talent, no doubt, a real find of Zimbabwean cricket.”
Madhevere has played in three Under-19 World Cups, the first one in 2016 as a 15-year-old under Stephen Mangongo, the development stalwart who first noticed and nurtured his raw talents.
“He is rare quality,” Mangongo said.“He is a three-dimensional youngster: an electric fielder, good offie, and explosive batter all in one. Also, we have to realise that he has been a beneficiary of the South African Schools system, where he has been on scholarship for the last four years in Pietermaritzburg.”
Madhevere attended St Charles College in KwaZulu-Natal on bursary after being spotted playing for Churchill.