Very few people knew about fast bowler Brian Vitori before the start of the ongoing Bangladesh tour of Zimbabwe, but it didn’t take long for those who were fortunate to see him in the Metbank Pro40 competition early this year to conclude that the young man had a bright future ahead of him.
With the ability to move the ball into the right-hander and away from the left-hander at decent pace, 21-year-old Vitori has been a revelation, keeping the Bangladesh batsmen on their toes with his accurate yet unpredictable bowling.
Vitori started playing provincial cricket at the age of 15 and participated in the Faithwear domestic one-day competition in 2007.
Prior to making both Test debut and One-Day International debut yesterday, Vitori had only played 18 first-class matches and 11 List A games for the Masvingo-based Southern Rocks where until recently he was playing in the franchise’s B squad.
The franchise system, formed in 2008, created an opportunity for him to grow and improve and he did so under the guidance of former England and Surrey player Monte Lynch the coach at Southern Rocks helping his franchise to the Met Bank Pro40 title.
“I think that’s where I really made my mark,” said Vitori referring to his performance in the limited overs’ domestic competition.
“I took five wickets in the semi-final against Matabeleland Tuskers and three in the final and soon after I was called up to the national camp.”
Alan Butcher, Zimbabwe coach, immediately noticed something unique about Vitori and ensured that he was kept hidden from any opposition eyes until he played his first international.
Vitori made his international debut in Zimbabwe’s comeback to Test cricket against Bangladesh last week and made an immediate impact taking five wickets in the match on his debut.
Together with fellow debutant, Kyle Jarvis, they formed a formidable new-ball partnership that should stand Zimbabwe in good stead in years to come.
Ambitious, confident and resolute, Vitori encapsulates everything that is shiny and new about Zimbabwean cricket.
“I have never been under the speed gun,” Vitori said.
“So it will be nice to see how quick I am.”
Then he quickly changed tack.
“But I know I am quick. I think I have the ability to do most things with the ball.”
He believes he will help carry the name of Masvingo.
“Some people from my home town will be coming here to watch the Test match. They are interested to see how the team does, but I know they also want to see how I will represent them.”
Vitori has spent the last three months training intensely for this chance to be an ambassador for his region.
“It all started at the big training camp that we had in May. Thirty-two players were invited to take part, and we learnt a lot. Heath taught me the most because we worked on everything, from my fitness to my accuracy.
The main thing about bowling is to keep it simple — no pressure, no panic — so that’s what I do. After all that training, last month we played against Australia A, and even though we lost, it was good to play a competitive side because it showed us what we need to work on.”
Vitori’s positive story — including the fact that he doesn’t come from Harare or Bulawayo, the big cricket centres — is an indicator of the progress Zimbabwe has made.