Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
NEW Zimbabwe cricket team coach Dav Whatmore says he was charmed by the first impressions he got from Solomon Mire even before the all-rounder had done anything with the ball and bat.
Mire made the final World Cup team short-list largely due to his performances during Zimbabwe’s last tour to Bangladesh towards the end of last year.
The Australia-based all-rounder made his debut on the tour and scored two fifties in five matches to stand out as a glimmer of hope when most of the touring players struggled under the difficult sub-continent conditions.
Whatmore was in the commentary box with former Zimbabwe players Alistair Campbell and Edward Rainsford when Mire rallied out to make his first international appearance for his country in Chittagong.
The Australian coach claims he saw the potential just by looking at the way Mire confidently walked down the pitch and, with that body language, Whatmore was convinced the 25-year-old knows his stuff well.
“Solomon Mire impressed me right from the beginning. The first time he impressed me was the way he moved across the turf.
“He set the game with the impression he was very comfortable in the ground and the way he moved across the turf I thought this guy is a pretty decent player without having seen anything else.
“Then I asked Alistair and I asked Eddy ‘who is this guy?’ and they said ‘look, he can bowl a bit, too, and he can hit the ball’.
“And sure enough, he had more of an opportunity to perform and he got a couple of fifties. His bowling was okay, he can improve on that and he just looks superb,” said Whatmore.
Mire, who is also a right-arm medium-pacer, has remarkably transformed his game since his move to play in Australia.
His performances in Bangladesh have placed him in line for selection for the World Cup.
The all-rounder drew the attention of the selectors when he plundered a tournament record 260 runs from 157 balls, while playing for Waratahs in the one-day Darwin and District Cricket Competition in Australia.
He also struck 185 later in the season and was signed by Melbourne Renegades for the Big Bash as a community rookie.
As a result, Mire’s inclusion in the World Cup squad has been received by many Zimbabweans who also hope that he will use his experience playing Down Under to the benefit of the team when the tournament gets underway in Australia and New Zealand next month.
Apart from the inclusion of Mire, the team has also been hailed for its balance, with names such as Hamilton Makasakadza, Sean Williams, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamu Chibhabha, Tinashe Panyangara and Prosper Utseya.
While not underestimating the task on his hands, Whatmore said they needed to cultivate a winning mentality among the players if they hoped to do well at the World Cup.
Zimbabwe are in Group B alongside South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, and defending champions India.
“The objective is to be really competitive against stiff opposition, teams that are ranked above us and most of the teams are.
“So, the objective is to be in a position to win a game.
“Too often the result is known a bit too early in the match and so we have to stay in the game as long as possible. If that’s the case, then we can win some,” said Whatmore.
However, there have been concerns over Zimbabwe’s preparations.
The team last played in Bangladesh in December and they are now hoping for an early departure to Australia where they expect to play more practice matches besides the two against New Zealand and Sri Lanka arranged by the ICC.
Convener of selectors Givemore Makoni remains confident of a positive outing.
“The beauty about this World Cup is that we are not only playing three games, but six games which is good enough games for any side to pick during the competition and progress.
“The team is going earlier to Australia. That will help obviously in acclimatising and also they are playing three practice games there.
“That’s going to be part of the preparation for them to be ready for the competition. So, the two weeks they are going early there are not really enough, but should be okay for the guys to make sure that they are ready for their first game,” said Makoni.