There was palpable excitement when the name Tadiwa Marumani was included in the Zimbabwe T20 squad to face Pakistan in April.
A new inclusion in any squad naturally draws attention especially if it’s the short format of the game.
For Marumani the question was what had the national selectors seen in this 19-year-old boy from Chitungwiza?
It must have been an 18-ball 50 against Rhinos in the Domestic T20 competition or the unbeaten 63 he scored against Tuskers in the very next match.
Or maybe it’s the two consecutive 50s he scored against Eagles and Mountaineers in the same T20 competition?
Zimbabwe has produced talented young cricketers over the years.
The world was introduced to the brilliance of Tatenda Taibu in 2001. In the same year Hamilton Masakadza had made international headlines with a Test hundred on debut.
Tinashe Panyangara, Elton Chigumbura, Chamu Chibhabha the list goes on of players who made their international debuts with baby faces.
Obviously circumstances on why they entered the challenging world of international cricket that young are myriad.
It’s a story for another day.
Currently, the name Wesley Madhevere is arguably the most talked about in Zimbabwe’s cricket circles and Pakistan as well, maybe.
Pakistan have seen the best of Madhevere at home and away, and on a sunny April 21st they witnessed another budding Zimbabwe cricketer.
He hails from Chitungwiza, a satellite town some 32 kilometres away from Harare.
Marumani’s early coach remembers a hard-hitting left-handed batsman who was once thought to be overaged after smacking the ball all over the park at a primary school tournament.
“We were at a Rockview Cricket Academy tournament and he was outstanding that we knew he would go far,” said Marumani’s first coach Kuda Chigulupati.
“We saw his potential and are happy to see him donning the national colours.
“As coaches we are proud of him, he has been a star, remember he once scored 200 runs in a Zimbabwe U14s match on their tour of South Africa in 2015.
“His talent earned him a scholarship at Prince Edward for his form three and four before Falcon College also took him on a scholarship for his A level,” added Chigulupati.
When Marumani walked in to bat against Pakistan on April 21st at Harare Sports Club he had five T20 caps, zero list A games and three first class matches.
“He is definitely one for the future,” said Prosper Utseya who coached Marumani at Under 19.
Marumani left a mark at the previous ICC-Cricket Under 19 World Cup finishing as the fourth highest run getter with 257 runs in six innings.
“I don’t doubt his ability and am pleased he has gone to represent his national team,” said Utseya.
The Zimbabwe under 19 coach who is also one of the national team selectors however, feels young talent still needs to be nurtured before stepping to the high standards of international cricket.
“To be honest our domestic competition is not strong when under 19s are coming and dominating, not to take anything away from Marumani’s performances, we definitely couldn’t ignore what he did.
“But imagine if these guys, Wesley Madhevere, Milton Shumba, Dion Myers, Marumani play a lot of A side games for maybe two to three years, it’s a different story all together.”
Ironically, straight from the third and final T20I between Zimbabwe and Pakistan, Marumani was getting his first List A cap the following day when his team Rocks played Eagles in a Pro 50 match at Old Hararians.
For Marumani it was either soccer or academics, well that was according to dad’s rules.
“I started playing cricket after falling in love with the old Zimbabwe team jersey and I told my mom I want to wear that shirt one day,” confessed Marumani from his base at Falcon College where is back studying for a certificate in Sports Management.
“My father wanted me to pursue soccer. He once bought me soccer kit which I gave away and he wasn’t too pleased with that.
“But that was me telling him, how much I loved cricket,” he said.
He has worn albeit a different Zimbabwe cricket jersey.
How was the feeling?
“If you noticed my first match I was nervous but in the next two matches I was comfortable.
“I am thankful to the coaches and teammates for their support after my first game, it was a confidence booster,” he said.
Marumani could not pass an opportunity to chat with the world’s number three T20 batsman, Pakistan captain, Babar Azam.
“He told me to be myself, he is a great player and he says he has got where he is by being himself as a player understanding and backing his game.
“And for me I am an attacking player, when batting I don’t worry about a lot of things.”
It’s still a fledgling career but Marumani, like Utseya said, ‘is one for the future.’