Did Solomon Mire hang his international cricket boots too early?

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Did it have anything to do with Zimbabwe Cricket’s uncertainties at that time?

It’s 14 months on without the demands of international cricket for the 31-year-old Mire.

ZTN’s reporter Brighton Zhawi (BZ) talks to Solomon Mire (SM) in a wide-ranging interview including his record of Zimbabwe’s highest individual T20I score, life after retirement and his unfulfilled potential at international cricket.

(BZ) A year now since your retirement from international cricket. How has it been like?

(SM) Well firstly thanks for reaching out always with some interesting questions. Time flies doesn’t it, it definitely feels like a lifetime ago. To be honest, factoring everything that’s happened since it’s been a roller coaster of a time, I was so fortunate to have a network of close family and friends at hand because it was an unprecedented time. In essence, I pressed a reset button and I felt like I was entering the real world coming off some sort of high horse so there was a humbling feeling to it all that in itself could be a subject of a discussion for another day.

(BZ) Do you have more time for other hobbies now, like designing?

(SM) Absolutely, there’s pretty much the rest of your life to keep discovering new hobbies too but you do realise there’s a whole lot of things you’ve missed out on living in the bubble of training and travel.

(BZ) Are you still playing club cricket?

(SM) Well, I haven’t exclusively been playing club cricket although I’ve remained involved, helping in different capacities especially player development, do I think I’ll play club cricket in the future, there’s a chance.

(BZ) You have always been a fitness fanatic. How true are the claims you built your physique with body workouts only?

(SM) I’ll just give you facts instead (laughs). My foundation was definitely all body workouts, as a kid, my father didn’t allow me near weights and so the alternative was push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and the like but as soon as I got old enough I started mixing both but I backed away from weights after a string of injuries. My playing days were mainly body workouts but I did mix it up on occasion.

(BZ) And that ball-hitting power, where does it come from? You hit one of the biggest sixes at the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

(SM) Well, it’s definitely a nature versus nurture conversation. As you can imagine, I was quite strong for a kid, whether that’s genetic or from all the exercise is debatable. There is the aspect of the environment I grew up in where by some chance I figured the art of contrast training after I figured I could throw and bowl faster by practising with a shot put ball I found at home and I took that same theory with bat swing. If you add in playing hockey, then I think the story sorts itself out.

(BZ) Which one is your biggest six to date, even measured by the eye?

(SM) Listen, I don’t mean to be pompous about the whole thing but I do think I’ve hit some bigger ones playing club cricket but I really couldn’t point to one specific one as obviously they were not measured and I could easily exaggerate or completely undersell so I’ll just say it was fun either way.

(BZ) Some feel you retired early. What do you say about that? It was an immediate retirement…

(SM) I guess it’s all perspective. Going by expected retirement ages then they’re probably right. Ultimately it was up to me and what people didn’t realise is the amount of cricket I played before international cricket and the physical toll on the body from all the all year playing and training the academies, it was non-stop. To put it in numbers, I think I played almost 10 to 12 seasons of club cricket in a row as an all-rounder sometimes opening in both. Now add high-performance academy stuff and mentally being switched on all the time didn’t help either, if anything, I could have got onto the international scene a bit earlier. Now I’m not saying I’m a special case, but don’t know if you looked at my injury record. Could I have gone on, absolutely, I could have just taken some time off to recharge but controversially I didn’t think it was worth it for a number of reasons.

(BZ) Did it have to do with the suspension challenges ZC were dealing with at that time?

(SM) Sorry I have to incorporate a bit of your previous question into this one on the immediacy of the retirement. Some people know this but it’s probably good to put it out there for everyone, I knew I was going to retire before we even went on tour. In fact, after the qualifiers, I was sure I was done and wanted to try to just focus on T20’s but was talked into trying to qualify for the T20 World Cup but continued to play ODI’s as well because our cricket was so spaced out, I think I had played 4 or 5 T20s in 4 years. During the tour, I told the skipper and a few close friends of my decision and initially suggested that I would continue playing T20s so the surprise was retiring from all formats. So clearly it had nothing to do with the suspension.

(BZ) Are you now into full time coaching, we have seen you post clips of batting drills on social media?

(SM) Not entirely, I am still discovering a lot. Obviously having my playing background and development journey, it was a natural transition into various coaching roles and I’ve been extremely fortunate in my current role at the Cutting Edge Academy working with awesome people but my role includes planning, strategy, development and coaching so I’m going with the flow and whether coaching full time is a long term prospect is yet to be determined. I do however enjoy Performance Analysis, Mental Skills as well as Technique hence some of the footage but outside that I’m studying Business and Entrepreneurship at uni and am involved in some side projects. Time will tell where I end up, lol.

(BZ) How would you describe your international career?

(SM) Well, it was a roller coaster of highs and lows. It was fun to be on a journey with mates and despite the challenges a rare opportunity to experience the world as an entertainer of sorts. I’ll always be grateful.

(BZ) You still hold the record for the highest T20 International score by a Zimbabwean. The 94 you scored against Pakistan in 2018. How do you feel about that?

(SM) I’m obviously proud to have achieved that because I do feel T20 was my strongest and preferred format. In a way, it’s a pity we never played much and I feel people never quite got to see my very best but I do hope someone breaks the record with a hundred plus score.

(BZ) What are some of your fondest memories during your international playing days?

(SM) The best days will always be the fondest, for me the Heath Streak, Lance Klusener era was most enjoyable. I had a clear and defined role and was challenged to keep improving in that role and felt the backing of everyone. I think my partnerships with Hammy at the top in Sri Lanka are up there as well.

(BZ) Do you feel you reached your full potential at the international level?

(SM) It’s an easy one to answer, I definitely know that I didn’t. I had this conversation with my batting coach, we both agreed that I prepared very well before leaving for tours and somehow it never equated to results on the field most of the time and there are a few factors upon reflection, a topic for another day too perhaps.

(BZ) There are quite a number of Zimbabwe cricketers in Australia now. How often do you guys link up?

(SM) Well it’s a continent so you can imagine distances, guys do reach out and we chat mainly over social media and sometimes we link up with anyone who can maybe once or twice a year.

(BZ) Last year (2019) a number of Zimbabwe cricketers opted to play club cricket in Australia. As someone who has been Down Under for years, what do you think of that move?

(SM) The best feedback would be from the guys in the trenches but I know it benefited me playing consistently and having access to a different voice. I think it’s beneficial depending on one’s ultimate goal of course but ultimately it needs to be challenging.

(BZ) Any plans to give back or promote cricket in any way back home here especially Kadoma where you come from? Kadoma boys seem to have that tradition of supporting their roots.

(SM) We have done some stuff in the past and would like to do more so I’m sure it’s a matter of when and not if. I think at the moment, it’s not just the tangible stuff that makes a difference but giving opinion and being a sounding board all counts, I’ve been involved in cricket for nearly 20 years so I’m sure there’s little I haven’t experienced so giving back will come in various forms.

(BZ) We have seen some great comebacks in sports, even legendary basketball player Michael Jordan came out of retirement at some point. Is Solomon Mire done with international cricket for good?

(SM) (Laughs) I’ll put it this way, life has taught me the only certainties are death and taxes but if I had my way, I’d say my journey specifically with Zimbabwe Cricket is done. I think it’s a hugely challenging role being a Zimbabwean cricketer that most of the world will never get to fully understand so doing it once was enough and I’ll leave it at that.

(BZ) If you were to go back to your younger self, what would you say to an 18-year-old Solomon about life?

(SM) I think the biggest lesson would have been to find some time to switch off and that there’s more to life. If it was cricket only I’d say, trust your instincts and play on instinct.