LAST year top Zimbabwe all-rounder Sean Williams began the year in the worst possible manner, breaking a finger in batting practice barely a month before the qualifier for this year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup which the country was hosting.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE/DANIEL NHAKANISO
After going on to miss the opening matches, Williams finally got the opportunity to play the qualifiers that ended in disappointment after Zimbabwe missed out on a ticket to the global cricket showpiece to be hosted by England and Wales.
“My 2018 began with a big blow after breaking my finger only weeks into the New Year and having to undergo emergency surgery. It left me not knowing what would happen or where it would leave me cricket-wise as it was my bowling hand which was operated,” Williams told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview.
“Luckily for me, my coach (Heath Streak) and batting coach (Lance Klusener) backed me at the risk of their own jobs, and that filled me with confidence and the motivation to do whatever it took to play in the World Cup qualifiers.
“I played with a broken finger only four days after the screw removal, I wanted to go the distance for them at all costs and I still would,” Williams said.
The injury was just the beginning of what would go on to be a rollercoaster year for one of Zimbabwe’s most colourful cricketers.
After the World Cup qualifiers, the 32-year-old star player almost quit international cricket, unhappy with the contract he had been offered by Zimbabwe Cricket.
The Bulawayo-born star, along with other senior players such as Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer and Craig Ervine, also missed the Twenty20 triangular series against Pakistan and Australia after a dispute over unpaid dues.
Williams came back with a bang, especially with the bat when Zimbabwe toured South Africa for three ODIs and three T20s.
The 32-year-old all-rounder also scored a century and a half-century in three ODIs as well as another half-century in Tests against Bangladesh toward the end of the year.
Yet the Bangladesh tour would have been his last for the Zimbabwe national team.
“There were issues with my contract. I had been given three months’ notice after a contract meeting where they stated that my commitment wasn’t good enough. So discussions with my family had left me with the decision of retiring from international cricket after the last game in Bangladesh.
“That quickly changed after I performed, and my contract was renewed immediately, but (the contract issue) was not at all a motivating factor for me. My own self-pride and the will to win is what motivates me,” he said.
Unlike last year, Williams begins the year having fun in the Bangladesh Premier League, where he is currently rubbing shoulders with some of the best cricketers in the world.
At Rangpur Riders, Williams is sharing notes with the likes of Windies big-hitting legend Chris Gayle, South African superstar AB de Villiers and local favourite Mashrafe Mortaza, to mention but a few.
“The year 2019 has started on a good note for me and it’s great being in the Bangladesh Premier League. I’m in a team of world-class players such as Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Ravi Bopara and Alex Hales, among others, so to get a game will be tough.”
Williams was yet to feature for his team in three matches ahead of the tie against log leaders Dhaka Dynamites last Friday.
“I will be taking the first opportunity I have to play if given the chance. My targets are to improve from last year and not make the same mistakes again and also to be the ‘inept’ that makes a difference,” he said.
Only last month Williams was part of the Tshwane Spartans for the inaugural edition of the Mzansi Super League which was captained by De Villiers.
“The Mzansi league was a great moment for me, and playing in the tournament was amazing, playing with AB (de Villiers) and against top players worldwide is something that I crave to do more of in the future.
“I learnt a lot and did things in the games that I have never done before that open the bowling in T20. It was awesome to have that type of backing from AB. All in all [it] was an awesome experience,” Williams said of the Mzansi Super League.