The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
REPRESENTING your country at a World Cup is always something special, doing it three times is even a greater achievement.
When the International Cricket Council Under-19 Cricket World Cup starts in South Africa on Friday, for Zimbabwean all-rounder Wesley Madhevere, it will be the third time he is representing his country at this prestigious tournament.
The 19-year-old Madhevere went to the 2016 edition in Bangladesh and the 2018 tournament staged in New Zealand.
Madhevere opens the batting and chips into the bowling attack in a big way with his off spin, which makes him a prolific all-rounder. He is excited to play in his third Under-19 World Cup, something he attributes to putting in a lot of hard work and praises the Almighty for giving him the gift to play the game.
He is delighted to be heading to a third Under-19 Cricket World Cup with his best buddy, Milton Shumba who is also an all-rounder.
“Firstly, I attribute it to God who gave me the talent, hence I was picked at a younger age. Then of course there was a lot of hard work that was involved. It’s a great feeling and I am very happy and I feel honoured to be the player who has achieved that for the first time in Zimbabwe and to a greater extent to have done that with my best friend,’’ Madhevere said.
Born and raised in Chitungwiza, Madhevere went to St Aidan’s Primary School and started playing cricket in Grade Five. From St Aidan’s, he went to Churchill High School in Harare and started representing Zimbabwe from the age of 14.
In 2016, at the age of 15, Madhevere made it into Zimbabwe’s team for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup held in Bangladesh. Madhevere picked up the Man of the Match accolade for taking five wickets as Zimbabwe thrashed Fiji by seven wickets in one of their group stage matches.
Because of his brilliance on the cricket field, Madhevere was in 2017 offered a scholarship by St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
He feels the move to South Africa played a huge role in his development as a player since he was exposed to better facilities and mentorship from different coaches. At the beginning of this year, Madhevere captained St Charles’ College at the South African Twenty20 national final staged in Pretoria.
“My game improved because of the facilities and the opportunities to different types of coaching I got from the other coaches here in South Africa and the amount of games I was playing helped me improve my game,” Madhevere said.
At the 2018 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup held in New Zealand, Madhevere was on fire.
He scored 94 and took four wickets for 24 to inspire Zimbabwe to a 138-run victory over Canada in a 11th place play-off. His exploits saw him walk away with the Man of the Match award. He had also been voted the best player in the wins over Papua New Guinea and Namibia.
Madhevere, who credits his parents for his success since they are the ones who have supported him with everything he has needed and they still do is one of the players expected to play a huge part if Zimbabwe are to make a huge impression at the Under-19 World Cup.
Nothing will satisfy the Zimbabwean vice-captain more than winning the Under-19 World Cup.
He firmly believes that Zimbabwe stand a good chance of winning the World Cup if the team plays well. Madhevere was in good form when Zimbabwe took part in the quadrangular series against India, New Zealand and South Africa in Durban where the Zimbabwean lads finished third. He scored two half centuries and a 42, with the youngster in high spirits ahead of the start of the World Cup.
“I feel good and had a couple of good knocks that helped me boost my confidence.”
With Zimbabwe Cricket looking to introduce new players for the 2023 Cricket World Cup, Madhevere is being seen as one of the stars for the future. Some are even calling for him, Shumba and Under-19 captain Dion Myers to be given a chance during Zimbabwe’s tour of Bangladesh at the end of next month.
Madhevere, who just completed Matric in South Africa is planning to take a gap year and play cricket and feels he is ready to step into the senior team.
“I’m ready to take every opportunity I get to play cricket at the highest level but if it doesn’t go well, I’m not going to stop playing,’’ he said.
Coming from a family where one has played international sport before, for Madhevere to play in three ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cups is such a wonderful achievement that can only serve as an inspiration to other youngsters. His achievement has shown that one’s background does not matter that much.