“To Pricey: love the attitude,” read Australian legendary batsman Steve Waugh’s inscription on a stump momento of Ray Price who had just hauled six wickets in Zimbabwe’s 2003/04 tour of Australia.
Right attitude and confidence were the hallmark of Price’s game whose spin bowling once made him the world One Day International (ODI) number two.
“When I was a small boy I dreamt of playing against Waugh. He was my hero and I was so excited to get him out when we toured Australia. Get him out in one match in Sydney is my memorable wicket,” said Price.
“My game was all about passion. I just wanted to do well. I did not have much talent but I always had the right attitude. I always gave it 100%.”
One sign of his confidence was his mastery in sledging.
That he did to big names that included West Indies great Brian Lara and former Australian batsman Matthew Hayden.
“I am a Christian and did not swear at people. My sledging was decent with no bad language. I would usually just say ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ to people. Brian liked my sledging and I once told Hayden that I was surprised to see that he was very big,” said Price.
His sledging was however in contrast to former Zimbabwe batsman Eddo Brandes who once nastily hit back ex-Australian bowler Glenn McGrath who had poked him about his gaining of weight.
“Because every time I sleep with your wife she gives me a biscuit,” replied Brandes in this popular sledge.
But Price was however a free spirited being who despite rising to become one of the world’s best spinners, had his fair share of frustrations.
Retiring last year in the middle of India’s tour of Zimbabwe, Price was however a bitter man after he was overlooked in the first three of the five ODIs.
“I just realised that it was time to retire when people still wanted me. I was playing good cricket and wanted to finish my contract but that did not happen,” he said.
“I wanted to play one of two matches at home in front of my family and friends and say goodbye to everyone. But the selectors did not think I was good enough and you cannot control them. I was very disappointed.”
His legendary status does not conform to him participating in only one World Cup.
He missed the 2003 World Cup and was not selected for the 2007 edition following a three and a half year stint playing county cricket in England with Worcestershire.
His decision not to renew his Worcestershire contract and come back home was interpreted as a strategy to come and get considered for the World Cup.
“My family missed home and I just wanted to come back home,” he said.
“I do not regret playing in only one World Cup because my one-day was not good. I did not deserve to go to those editions I was overlooked.”
But the aggressive spinner had a dream outing at the 2011 World Cup where he claimed nine wickets that helped him get auctioned for the Indian Premier League with Mumbai Indians, buying him for US$50 000.
“Sitting in the same dressing room with guys like Sachin Tendulkar and Shaun Pollock was fantastic,” he said.
Zimbabwe leaves for the T20 World Cup on Wednesday and Price has tipped Zimbabwe to make full use of their spin bowlers in Bangladesh where conditions favour spinners.
“We have been to Bangladesh a lot so we are very much familiar with conditions there. I think guys like Natsai M’shangwe, Prosper Utseya, Tino Mutombodzi and Malcom Waller will do well,” said Price.
The Bangladesh tour of duty comes on the backdrop of preparations blighted by a salary row between players and Zimbabwe Cricket.
“It is disappointing that players are not being paid on time. These guys need to be appreciated because they are men with families and need to pay their bills and school fees for their children,” he said.