CRAIG WISHART -- BIOGRAPHY
Full Name: Craig Brian Wishart
Born: 9 January 1974, Harare
Major teams: Zimbabwe (since 1995/96), Mashonaland Under-24 (1993/94-1995/96), Mashona- land (1996/97- ).
Present club team:Alexandra
Known as: Craig Wishart
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Medium Pace
Occupation: no regular employment but `helping my dad with work at the finance company UDC during the winter'
Test Debut: Inaugural Test v South Africa, at Harare Sports Club, 1994/95
ODI Debut: 26 August 1996, v Australia, at Colombo (Singer World Series)
Biography (December 1996)
Craig Wishart is one of Zimbabwe's most promising young batsmen; he has been ear-marked for great deeds for years, and is now looking ready to fulfil his potential.
Craig's father was a well-known local cricketer who played much club and Logan Cup cricket, and also represented Rhodesia B during the early Seventies, all in pre-first-class days. So Craig grew up with the game, and first played formal cricket during the Eagles holiday programme, run by George Goodwin, at the age of five. He was one of the youngest of a group containing players several years his senior, but his talent stood out. George Goodwin was also a family friend who invited Craig round to his house to play with his own sons, and gave him most of his early coaching. Craig looked the part of a batsman right from the start, and at the age of seven was batting Number Four for the Groombridge School Colts team (consisting mainly of ten-year-olds) and making useful scores. He was always big for his age, and even then had the power and skill to outclass most of his seniors.
The following year he moved to St John's Preparatory School and was a leading light in a very strong team. He was well known for his consistently heavy scoring, but he remembers few details apart from raking all ten wickets in an innings with his `little seamers' in a match against Alfred Beit School in Harare; he cannot remember when he scored his first century. In his final year he was selected for the Partridges, the national primary schools team.
Like so many other leading Zimbabwean players, his high-school years were spent at Falcon College, near Esigodeni. He was selected for the school first team when still in Form Three, played for the Fawns, the national Under-15 team, and then for Zimbabwe Schools in 1991. At about this time he made his highest score in any cricket to date, 198 not out against the Welsh school Darfed, out in Zimbabwe on tour.
He was fortunate to be developing at the time when Zimbabwe cricket was just entering the Test arena and beginning to expand in other directions. This opened up new opportunities for young players like Craig, and he had the benefit of going on tours with the national Under-19 team to Denmark and Cape Town. Andy Pycroft was coach, and Craig particularly acknowledges all that he learnt from him. He produced a few good fifties, but already people were saying that he should be scoring more heavily.
In club cricket, he played first for Harare Sports Club, and then moved to his present club, known universally as Alex. He made his first-class debut at the close of the 1992/93 season, against the touring Kent county side, and impressed by making the top score of 65 in the first innings, off exactly 100 balls, showing his ability to hit the ball hard with 8 fours and 3 sixes.
The following two seasons were busy ones for Craig, as the selectors had noted him as one to be encouraged and given all possible experience, and Craig found himself included in almost every team short of international level -- Logan Cup for Mashonaland Under-24s, the Zimbabwe Board XI and most of the select teams toplay the various tourists. He took a long time to find his feet. In 1993/94 he was usually out before reaching double figures, although he scored two good fifties; the following season he overcame that problem so well that only twice in 20 innings did he fail to reach 10, but only three times did he pass 50. He feels that at this stage he had not learnt to build an innings and tended to lose concentration or become impatient, while others suspect that he also tends to lack belief in his own outstanding ability.
Craig had now done enough to convince the selectors that he was ready for Test cricket, although unusually for a batsman he made his Test debut before he had scored a first-class century. He now felt he was really part of first-class cricket, although scores of 24 and 13 added to his reputation for failing to build on solid starts. He held out with determination for a while against Allan Donald, whom he rates as being in a class of his own as the best individual bowler he has faced.
Craig has yet to establish himself fully in Test cricket; in six Tests before the England tour his only score of substance has been a praiseworthy 51 in Sri Lanka. Generally, though, he struggled against the Sri Lankan spinners on their home pitches, and even more so in Pakistan against Wasim and Waqar, whom he rates almost as highly as Donald. Few would doubt, though, that, all things being equal, he should have a long and successful Test career ahead of him. He has also recorded his first century at last, in the recent Logan Cup match in Bulawayo. With his ability, he would not be over-ambitious to look regularly for double-hundreds now. At present he feels that possibly the best innings he ever played was his 53 in his second official one-day inter-national, against India during the Singer World Series in Sri Lanka, when he came in at a vital time and shared in a fine partnership with Andy Flower.
Craig has also developed as an `occasional' bowler in first-class cricket, still bowling seamers and taking useful wickets at times. In 1994/95 he startled everybody, not least himself, by taking nine wickets in a Logan Cup match against Matabeleland, which shows that the potential for better things is there. At present, though, he feels it is wise to concentrate on his batting.
Craig names Dave Houghton as his cricket mentor and role model, and particularly admires the way he so often comes up with the goods when under pressure, admitting that he still tends to get too hyped-up himself in pressure situations. Craig looks to mould himself on Houghton and learn from the way he occupies the crease and handles the bowlers. He also finds Andy Flower very helpful and willing to give him useful tips.
Craig used to play rugby and hockey at school, but now devotes his full attention to cricket. For relaxation he enjoys fishing.
Alistair Campbell says, "If Dave Houghton does retire at the end of the season, I believe that Craig is the man who can fill his boots. He's a natural match-winner as well; he's played a couple of innings this season that have been awesome to watch -- little cameos. He scored a hundred recently in the Logan Cup after having a bit of a bad run for a while, and hopefully he can come good for us, because once he gets going he's magnificent. Hopefully he can learn how to play international cricket, learn how to build big innings, and I believe he will have a major part to play for us in the future."