CANBERRA — A disagreement with Zimbabwe’s former coach left Sean Williams on the verge of retiring from international cricket, now he’s shaping as a key figure as the Africans look to repeat Ireland’s upset win over the West Indies.
While Canberrans are hoping for a repeat of Chris Gayle’s whirlwind century against the Prime Minister’s XI in 2010, Williams is hoping the Windies master blaster’s recent run of outs continues when they meet at Manuka Oval tomorrow.
Ireland caused the first upset of the World Cup when they chased down the West Indies’ total of 304 last Monday, giving Zimbabwe hope they can do the same.
Williams scored an unbeaten 76 against the United Arab Emirates to guide Zimbabwe to their first victory of this Cricket World Cup on Thursday.
It has him confident if he and his teammates perform to their best they can win
“We saw what Ireland did to the West Indies, so why can’t we do that?” he said yesterday.
“They are a strong side through and through . . . but they have been a little hit-and-miss recently, they didn’t have the best tour of South Africa, so confidence on their side must be down a little bit.”
But he almost wasn’t part of the squad after a falling out with former coach Stephen Mangongo last year.
Williams missed some training sessions to visit a sick family member and was left out of the team’s tour of Bangladesh late last year.
But Mangongo is gone and Aussie Dav Whatmore is the new coach, which has paved the way for the veteran of 71 one-day internationals to return to the side.
The 28-year-old is getting married in April so was considering retiring from the international stage and looking to play professionally in domestic leagues, such as England’s county cricket.
He also considered playing hockey – his mother was part of the Zimbabwe team that won gold at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
Williams felt things had become too personal between him and Mangongo, with both parties saying things they shouldn’t have.
“I seriously had to consider about moving on and thinking about [retiring], because the World Cup is a big stage and it can change your life,” he said.
“But the timing wasn’t great and I didn’t have a lot of time to jump on a plane and get an offer from say Australia and England.
“I’m getting married in April so I’ve got to start thinking a little further ahead.”
Williams’ only knowledge of Manuka comes from watching the game between Afghanistan and Bangladesh last week.
While Zimbabwe don’t know much about Canberra’s ground, their opposition certainly have fond memories of it — especially Gayle.
The hard-hitting West Indian smashed 146 off just 89 balls against the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka in 2010 — an innings that included eight sixes and 14 fours.
It’s an innings many fans will hope he can replicate tomorrow, unless of course you’re Zimbabwean.
Instead, Williams is hoping everyone at Manuka is watching the Africans bat their way to victory.
He’s also hoping Gayle’s quiet start to the World Cup continues on from his two innings of 36 and four.
“Chris Gayle isn’t firing at the moment, hopefully he doesn’t start firing against us in the next game,” Williams said.
“When he gets out, every team is happy to see the back of him, but playing against him is an opportunity a lot of people don’t get.
“I would like to get him out as fast as possible. I hope [Canberrans] watch us bat and get their total.”
Williams is mates with injured ACT Brumbies vice-captain David Pocock and flicked the Super Rugby player a text to see if they could catch up while he was in Canberra.
— Canberra Times