William Mashinge loves Andre Russell, the big-hitting West Indian all-rounder.
In local circles, 23-year-old Mashinge is even called “Dre Russ”.
The boy idolises Russell, a huge influence on his cricket.
In The Oval this week, Brighton Zhawi chats to Mashinge, who believes young Zimbabwean players have a point to prove after they were not considered in espncricinfo’s story on young players to watch in the next decade.
Mashinge, who has two T20 international caps, 19 First Class games, six List As and as many T20s, is part of the Zimbabwe squad that is currently training.
BZ: Chatting to you, am I wrong to say that I am chatting to Zimbabwe’s own “Dre Russ”?
WM: (laughs) Well, I look up to him as a role model, but I prefer Zimbabwe’s own Will Mash.
BZ: What do you love about the great West Indian all-rounder, Andre Russell?
WM: First of all, it is the work ethic, then his ability to win games from almost impossible situations, which is what I aspire to do for any team I play for, and then the fancy haircuts, ear rings, neck chains, etc. I just love it.
BZ: If you were to meet him today, what is the first thing you would say to him?
WM: I don’t know, to be honest. Probably I would start a cricket-related conversation.
BZ: Have you guys ever interacted on social media?
WM: Nope, never!
BZ: It brings me to your well-known work ethic. Walter Karimanzira, Zimbabwe Cricket team’s fitness trainer, once called you one of the fittest in the country. What drives you?
WM: Well, I guess it is the desire to get better each day that goes by. I mean, I am an all-rounder – I have to perform with bat and ball every time I get an opportunity to play and to do that to the best of my ability. I really have to be fit and if I’m not, I will be letting down the other 10 lads I will be with on the park. So, yeah, every time I think of that it makes me push harder.
BZ: A few days before your 23rd birthday, something special happened . . .
(Mashinge made his international debut in Singapore in a T20 against Nepal on October 1, five days before his 23rd birthday.)
WM: Oh yes, arguably the best day of my life. My childhood dream of representing my country at the international stage came true. Something I always wanted to do since I was a little kid.
BZ: Which one is your preferred format . . . your first-class bowling record is impressive. (with an average of 19,86)
WM: One-dayers and T20s are fun, but I love four-day cricket as it tests all the aspects of your game and brings out the true cricketer in you.
BZ: And you are that aggressive bowler who doesn’t shy to throw one or two words, where does that come from?
WM: I’m a very nervous cricketer, so I like getting into sort of like a fight with the opposition, it gets me going and it takes away all the nerves. I think it brings the best out of me really.
BZ: You were handed your T20 International cap by Tino Mawoyo and there is a picture of Tino and a school boy Mashinge at an awards ceremony some years back. Special isn’t it?
WM: Yeah, it’s funny how things happen. In 2014 he was the guest of honour at the Watershed T20 competition and he presented me with the prize of being the most valuable player of the tournament, and after three years, I was playing under him at Mountaineers where he was my captain; then he went on to cap me on my international debut. It’s just those moments that you look at and say God has been good.
BZ: You are in the Zimbabwe training squad which will play when cricket is cleared to resume post-Covid-19. How important is this call-up to you?
WM: Every call-up is important to me, I would say. They don’t just come and when they do, you have to make the most out of them, work hard and hope and expect the best.
BZ: Let’s revisit the 2016 U-19 World Cup. The way Zimbabwe exited still hurts, hey?
(Mashinge was part of the team that was knocked out of the tournament through the mankad by bowler Keemo Paul. A mankad is a run-out of the non-striker by the bowler before bowling the ball if the non-striker leaves his crease too early, thought by some to be ungentlemanly.)
WM: Yes, obviously when any team misses a place in the quarter finals of a World Cup like that it is bound to hurt. But I mean you can’t cry about it for the rest of your life. You just have to pick up the broken pieces and move on. That’s life – you win some and lose some.
BZ: Espncricinfo recently carried a story on the 20 young cricketers they think will dominate in the next decade. There was no Zimbabwean, not even the exciting Wessie Madhevere, on that list. As an upcoming player yourself . . . how is that for motivation?
WM: All I can say is watch the space and let us wait till the next decade. I believe if I just work hard and stay focused then there is nothing that’s going to stop me from being a world-class superstar. I believe in myself and my ability and with time I will be up there in the rankings.
BZ: On that note, give us some names of players to watch from Zimbabwe in the future.
WM: I think myself, Wesley, Brandon, Richard and Ryan have all showed a glimpse of what they can do in international cricket. Then Milton, who recently scored his maiden first-class ton last season, and then Trevor, who is still finding his feet in the domestic circuit, but, boy, he can play cricket!
BZ: In case Andre Russell comes across this interview, what do you want to say to him?
WM: (laughs) Keep doing what you doing bigman.