Two 15-year-old cricketers, Wesley Madevere and Milton Shumba, have been included in Zimbabwe’s Under-19 team for next month’s World Cup in Bangladesh.
Coach Steve Mangongo, an old hand at nurturing talent, says the duo reminds him of the early days of Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza.
He says he gets “goosebumps” whenever he sees them in action.
“These kids have shown a lot of potential and ability for 15 year-olds,” says Mangongo. “Coming from Chitungwiza, where they were identified at primary school, they have showed a knack to score runs and ability to take wickets … they are genuine all-rounders.
“To be honest when I look at these youngsters they remind me of Tatenda and Masakadza. Hamilton at one point was a holder of a world record for being the youngest boy to score a Test century. And Tatenda broke into the national team aged 16, so these two youngsters remind me of those days.”
Madevere and Shumba are on cricket scholarships at Churchill High School in Harare where they broke into the school’s first team in Form One.
Now they are preparing to prove their worth on the biggest stage of them all – the World Cup.
For Madevere it “feels like Heaven” while for Shumba “this is awesome.”
“I didn’t show it when I heard that I got selected, but deep inside I was feeling like I was in Heaven,” says Madevere.
“All this is a result of hard work and commitment, if you spend four to five hours hitting balls and doing target bowling it will improve your game,” adds the off-spinner.
Madevere discloses how hard they push each other in training.
“We tell each other that there is no room for error, we need to do things right but if we fail we don’t worry about the mistakes. It happens to everyone, but we try to minimise the mistakes. We also emphasise on enjoying what we do.”
Shumba is determined to make a mark at the World Cup.
“This is awesome,” he says. “I want to go there and play my natural game, no pressure, concentrate and stay switched on all the time.”
The duo joins the likes of Chevrons skipper Elton Chigumbura (15), Edzai Jaure (16) and Luke Jongwe (16) as some of the youngest local players to take to the field at the global showcase.
Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket coach Steve Mangongo longs for the day that young talents “sleep, eat and drink cricket”.The respected coach reckons the hunt for the next Chevrons generation will be made easier through implementation of a programme to ensure promising youngsters play the game year-round.
“Identifying and nurturing talent is pivotal for the future of the game. The underlining factor is we need to identify talent.
“There is no short term fix, we should make sure we catch them young and this is part of the logic and the thinking,” he said.
“We also need to be patient with the youngsters such that when they reach 19 or 20 years of age, these kids would have worked enough in a cricketing environment to understand the game better.
“We believe if we put the necessary hard yards in these youngsters we will get the results we desire. If we are going to run a two-year program of non-stop cricket coaching, hopefully ZC will get the academy up and running and these kids will sleep, eat and drink cricket.
That way you can’t go wrong.”
Meanwhile, Mangongo is confident that his team will be ready for the World Cup.
“The truth is they are short of international game time and there is a difference between school-boy cricket and international youth cricket and that’s the gap we’ve got to close.
“And you don’t buy experience from the shops you’ve got to be exposed and play games and I am happy to say that Zimbabwe Cricket have lined up a tour versus Afghanistan for ODIs
“. . . there is also a potential tour to India or South Africa to play another five ODIs. At least that will give them an opportunity to rub shoulders against other youth international players.”