Cremer 60 percent loading

HARARE - Ex-Zimbabwe cricket captain Graeme Cremer is itching for a quick return to the national fold following a successful surgery on a knee injury that had relegated him to the bench since the team’s World Cup Qualifiers debacle at home in March last year. 

The 32-year-old leg-spinner playing in the discomfort of the pain in his knee throughout the ICC World Cup Qualifiers hosted in the country across three cities, Harare, Bulawayo and Kwekwe where only two slots were available for this year’s 50 overs global showcase in England. 

“It’s been tough, injuries are always a huge set back, and very frustrating mentally, and hard watching the games from the sidelines,” Cremer tells the Daily News on Sunday. 

“I would say I’m around 60 percent at the moment, so I have a lot of work to do, especially strengthening the knee again.” 

Zimbabwe disappointed in front of their home crowd going down to minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their decisive match of the Super 6 stage costing them a place in the final and subsequently the England games. UAE won the match by three runs, courtesy of the Duckworth Lewis method. 

The consequences were felt far and wide as it had a ripple effect on the entire technical department led by former coach Heath Streak, while also batting coach Lance Klusener and convenor of selectors Tatenda Taibu were relieved of their jobs with skipper Cremer stripped of his captaincy. 

Cremer has not played for the national team since, missing back to back home assignments; the Triangular Twenty20 series against Australia and Pakistan as well as the One Day International engagement with the Asian side over the non-payment of salaries and match fees by the local association Zimbabwe Cricket. 

The intervention of ICC through the availing of funds through controlled financial plan so Cremer and a couple of players who had missed out on the home assignments resuming training but in August, he opted to go under the knife to rectify the nagging knee problem.

In the process, the father of two boys, Zac (six) and Max (three) missed out in two away tours to South Africa and Bangladesh only returning to domestic cricket late last year. 

“… That decision by Zim cricket was hard to take, especially because myself and the team gave our absolute best in the qualifiers,” he comments on being stripped of his captaincy and the wholesome changes effected after the loss in the Qualifiers. 

His return to domestic is still in fits and starts, he is yet to regain full match fitness but insists he is happy with his recovery programme so far. 

His franchise Mid West Rhinos with a galaxy of stars playing for the national team such as Brendan Taylor, Chamu Chibhabha, Malcolm Waller, Brandon Mavuta, Tarisai Musakanda, Richard Ngarava Tendai Chisoro among a host of other players but are yet to play to their potential this season. 

The Kwekwe-based side have a couple of wins on their belts in the season that is still in its infancy but an innings and 17 runs defeat at the hands of Mashonaland Eagles mid-December has exposed their frailties. 

“Yes, I feel my skill level has not dipped a lot, it’s just the fitness and strength side that I have struggled with, so I was happy with how things went on my return to domestic cricket,” he said.

“It has been an indifferent start, we have a great team, we are just not playing to our full potential yet. Hopefully, we will get there.” 

In his absence, a new leg-spinner was unearthed, Mavuta. 

The 21-year-old debuted in the two-Test series in Bangladesh in Sylhet taking four wickets and also has taken five wickets in the five ODIs he has played so far. 

Mavuta is also coming in handy with the bat as evidenced with his half century (52) so far. 

“He has great potential, and also great for me to be able to help and guide him.... and he can share the overs with me, which will take big pressure off me,” Cremer said of Mavuta. 

Cremer made his Test debut aged 18 in June 2005 against Bangladesh in Chittagong having played only six first class matches. 

He went on to claim six wickets in the two Test matches against the Tigers. His ODI debut came in 2009 against Kenya in Mombasa and has played 19 Tests, 96 ODIs and 29 T20 games for Zimbabwe. 

He has had a love and hate relationship with ZC before going into retirement in 2013 after being incensed by the board’s insincere treatment of players only to return back in 2015 after being talked out of retirement by former managing director cricket affairs, Alistair Campbell. 

 “I left Zim cricket because of issues with administration, and just their general lack of respect for the players; I stopped enjoying my cricket because of that. I received all the money I was owed but money was never the deciding factor for me.”

And yesterday he reiterated everything is now a thing of the past. 

“I feel myself and Zim cricket have settled all our differences, as well as management changing all the time, it’s not the same faces as before,” he said. 

Cremer is married to pilot Merna Eleanor Cremer, an ex-Miss Zimbabwe fitness bikini champion who also conquered the world in Vienna, Austria in 2011 and the couple is blessed with two boys. 

“Merna has been amazing during my career, she is so supportive and always there for me, and the kids love watching me play, so that’s a bonus,” he said.


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