The Sunday Mail
“HEY young man, just go in and enjoy yourself.”
“It’s alright daddy, if it’s there let it fly.”
The above is a snippet of the conversation that goes on between Eagles opening pair of Cephas Zhuwao and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe. The two are one of the most explosive batting tandem in local game today; so much so that they have adopted the moniker ‘bash brothers’.
The moniker was first introduced by Oakland Athletics duo Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire during their 1989 Major League Baseball World Series title run, but has since been made famous by New Zealand legend Brendan McCullum and his Brisbane Heat team Chris Lynn during the just ended 2018-19 Big Bash Twenty20 tournament.
Not to be outdone, Zimbabwe now has its own variation comprising of the Bully and the Hulk as Zhuwao and Kamunhukamwe are also known within these local cricket circles.
When the two Eagles batters are on song, the team gets a flying start like last week in Mutare when they scored 48 inside four overs in a match their team scored 304 against Mountaineers.
“It’s good to bat with someone you know will ease some of the pressure off you,” said Zhuwawo.
“We always want to utilise the power play, but I know we have been criticised a lot for not batting longer,” he said
Indeed, criticism has come from all corners, with the prevailing argument being that longer batting spells could put them on a high standing.
“Backing is also important for a player and I appreciate that our coach Stuart (Matsikenyeri) allows us to express ourselves.
“Cricket is changing and teams are using the powerplay more effectively.
“I trust my ability and believe eventually I will be able to spend more time on the crease,” said Zhuwawo.
His batting partner, Kamunhukamwe, has a more relaxed approach to all the noise and mostly wants to enjoy his cricket.
“Yeah hopefully we will bat more overs soon and as a youngster I listen to him more,” he said.
In modern cricket; teams are running off to flying starts in the first powerplays, something that has high risks as well as high returns.
And never was that more visible than during last week’s fourth ODI between West Indies and England at St George’s Park.
England broke the world record for most sixes in an innings with 24 maximums, while West Indies came just two big hits of that record in their reply.
The tone for the huge innings was set in both powerplays, England were 89-0 while West Indies scored 75-2 in the first ten.
“Cricket is changing, teams are making good use of the first powerplay, it’s something I am striving to do every game,” Zhuwawo said.
The 34-year-old has nine ODIs and seven T20I caps and he emulates West Indies legend Chris Gayle who left him a bat last year during the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Harare.
“He is my role model and I am learning a lot from him,” he said.
Kamunhukamwe has also tasted international cricket too, earning two ODI caps against Pakistan in Bulawayo last July.
“It was a great experience, another learning opportunity from both my seniors and the Pakistani team.
“I think international cricket is mainly on the mental side for the margin of error is small,” he said.
Their victims, the bowlers, have weighed in on the two’s prowess, expressing awe at how far they tend to take the ball.
“When they get you, you go far,” said Zimbabwe’s premier ODI bowler Tendai Chatara.
“My wish is for them to work on shot selection, especially on knowing which balls aren’t supposed to fly and which are.
“Other than that, I have no doubt in their potential as big hitters,” he said.
“It’s not that easy bowling to those two, they can hit it far,” admitted Eagle’s Daniel Jackiel, a budding bowler renowned for magnificent death bowling skills.
With their exploits confined to the local, one can only hope that one day they will take their talents onto the international stage. But this season they have contributed in Eagles unbeaten run in the Pro 50 Championship.
In today’s fixtures Eagles are away to Rhinos in Kwekwe while Mountaineers host Tuskers in Harare.