The Sunday Mail
IT is almost next to impossible not to get excited at the future prospect that is young Wesley Madhevere, one of the bright spots of Zimbabwe’s recent return to international cricket in Pakistan.
The 20-year-old cricketer already looks to have all the attributes needed for a future superstar.
His debut selection for the Bangladesh tour earlier this year was greeted with unanimous applause and approval, something that is a rarity in Zimbabwe cricket.
He has the distinction of gracing an Under-19 World Cup tournament, making the First Class, List A, and international debut all within the same calendar year — a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that he was 19 years at the time.
The Mashonaland Eagles all-rounder has rewarded the faith thrust upon him with a tonne of runs and wickets, having scored 768 runs and taken 13 scalps.
His runs tally doesn’t sound all that impressive until you factor in the fact that he already has three international half-centuries and four in the domestic game during a year marked by limited action due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His limited-overs skipper, Chamu Chibhabha best summed up how his teammates, and the country at large, view this young gem.
“I have now run out of superlatives to describe his performances. Wesley has been the biggest revelation so far, and embodies everything we are trying to do by playing fearless cricket,” said Chibhabha, upon the completion of the Pakistan tour a fortnight ago.
“He is a genuine all-rounder who continues to rise and impress with every outing. He has a great temperament that defies his young age, and Zimbabwe Cricket has a great asset in him.
“If he stays grounded, he is going to win many games for Zimbabwe.”
However, underneath the veneer of platitude, praise, and applause, Madhevere has tuned out the noise and prefers to concentrate on his game.
“I don’t really pay too much attention to what people are saying about me. All I do is focus on my cricket and make sure I do justice to every opportunity that comes my way,” he said.
“I am really glad that nothing has changed; I haven’t seen any people treating me any different, and it has just been the same as it always has.
“I have received some acknowledgement, support and advice from those that know me though.”
While he could easily buy into the hype, Madhevere looks to have his feet firmly on the ground, describing himself as “humble, passionate and determined”.
Born on September 4, 2000, Madhevere has what can be best described as a modest cricket origins story.
“In primary school, I started off playing baseball and only played the sport for something like a year in Grade Four.
“Sometime during the fifth grade, I then started playing cricket and have never looked back.”
Madhevere caught the eye of selectors and made it into the Under-19 relatively quickly.
In fact, the all-rounder has featured in three Under-19 World Cups in Bangladesh (2016), New Zealand (2018) and India (2020).
“I have had the privilege to represent my country at three different Under-19 World Cups, and not so many people can say that or have been granted that opportunity.
“It is a point of pride for me and I am grateful that it happened to me,” he said.
The 2020 edition of the competition remains his favourite, and it is easy to understand why.
Madhevere looks at the year 2020 with both pride and encouragement.
It all started with a trip to India for the Under-19 World Cup.
While Zimbabwe did not have the best of outings — finishing the group stages with a solitary win — Madhevere holds the tournament in high regard.
His performance at the tournament then led to a First Class, List A, and, more importantly, an international call-up and debut against Bangladesh.
Madhevere made a big impression to warrant another look after all sport was suspended owing to Covid-19.
Reflecting on the year gone by, Madhevere said: “The pandemic has been tough; I have seen and experienced so many things, and being away from the game was such a big challenge for me.
“However, I am glad we managed to come out stronger. We kept fit with the workouts we got from our coaches; we were there for each other.
“Even after the lockdown, we went into the bubble; I would like to think it was good for me.”