Snappy Q&As with the players

Sean Ervine

'It all fell apart when we were going places'

Sean Ervine talks about his decision to leave Zimbabwe, growing up in a sporting family, and the ferocity of a Shaun Tait bouncer

Interview by Jack Wilson

February 13, 2014

Comments: 13 | Text size: A | A

Sean Ervine celebrates his hundred against India, India v Zimbabwe, Adelaide, January 24, 2004
Sean Ervine's run-a-ball hundred against India in Adelaide took Zimbabwe within three runs of a famous win © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sean Ervine

What was it like growing up playing cricket in Zimbabwe?
It was brilliant as a kid. All sports were compulsory: cricket, hockey, athletics and tennis. Everyone played everything and I was from a big sporting family, which helped.

You and your brother Craig have both played for Zimbabwe. Your other brother Ryan has played first-class cricket too. How good was your back garden?
We used to have some great competitions between us. We were lucky to have the upbringing we had on a big farm in the sticks in north Zimbabwe. We used to have a net and a bowling machine and the dogs and the flower beds were fielders. There were lots of windows broken.

At the age of 18 you made your Zimbabwe debut. Tell us about it.
It was a bit of a wake-up call. We were 3-0 down in an ODI series with England, which is probably why I got a chance in the fourth. Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick smashed me around everywhere and I ended up bowling seven overs for 54. I enjoyed the batting, hit a few fours but I was given out caught behind off Freddie [Flintoff]. I didn't edge it, though. I didn't get near it!

You made half-centuries in your last three Test innings. Is it satisfying to know you were good enough for Test cricket?
It really is. Two of them were in the same game against Bangladesh and they couldn't have been more different. The first one was really hard work in a partnership with Tatenda Taibu. In the second innings, me and Andy Blignaut had to go on and attack to push the game forward. It helped us win the Test, which is more rewarding. I've always been more worried about the team than myself.

How hard was it to make the decision to leave your international career with Zimbabwe behind?
Extremely hard. I always look back and think about the team we had before it all fell apart, and we were going places. I think people around the world knew that. I remember 14 or 15 of us players sat down to talk and I had to say, "I'm out".

Looking back, are you happy you did?
It was a tough decision but I've had some great years with Hampshire and Western Australia. Both of those teams have been brilliant for me. My parents said they couldn't see it changing and it was justified.

Your nickname is "Slug". Why?
Greg Lamb and Richard Sims called me "Slug" because I was so slow between the wickets, apparently!

What is the funniest thing you have seen on cricket field?
Andy Flower was batting against England in a one-day international in Harare. He was facing Matthew Hoggard at the time and he hit the ball and took off to run - but his legs couldn't keep up with him. He ended up three quarters of the way down the pitch on all fours with everyone laughing at him.

Who is the quickest bowler you have faced?
Shaun Tait. He's got a horrible action too.

Has he ever hit you?
In the head, yes. He got me second ball I faced in a Ford Ranger game in Adelaide. It dented the helmet half an inch and I was seeing stars for two minutes after that. He's a good mate and it's good to see him doing well in the Big Bash.

Who has the worst dressing-room banter?
David Griffiths. He's terrible. When he says stuff in games the boys in the slips just end up falling about laughing.

Which of your team-mates would you least like to have in a pub quiz team?
Liam Dawson.

Which man in county cricket would you least like to have a fight with?
Ben Stokes. I reckon they're all a bit different up north. I wouldn't fancy it.

Which of your coaches has had the shortest temper?
That's tough. Thinking back, they've always been pretty laid-back.

Do you feel the nerves in big games?
I'm not a nervous character at all, I never have been. I remember waiting to bat one game for Zimbabwe when we were playing Pakistan in Harare. I started yawning and the coach Geoff Marsh saw me. He told me to wake up and tried to gee me up but I've always been so relaxed.

What is the worst injury you have seen on a cricket field?
Simon Jones' back in the Ashes in 2002 was terrible - but I only saw that on TV. I'm going to go with my own injury. I ruptured my knee ligaments in the final game of the season in 2005 and it was horrendous.

What is the highlight of your career so far?
I've had a few but my hundred in the VB Series against India in 2004 is up there. Me and Stuart Carlisle both made centuries but we ended up losing by three runs. I always look back as if that was the start of something.

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Posted by Googlyseamer on (February 17, 2014, 17:08 GMT)

And the old team also lost more games than they won. The current teams last game was a test win against a strong Pakistan team. This from players who live a much tougher life than the so called old timers of zim cricket who had every resource available to them and still had a 20% win ratio. Enough with the nostalgia for players who used zim cricket as a launch pad and contributed heavily towards our spiral by all quitting at the same time essentially throwing our U19 team (Taylor and co) into the deep end before they were ready. Can we start getting profiles of the new generation who constantly fight battles against zim cricket while living in the tough zim conditions but still play the game with smiles on their faces wholeheartedly 100%. The likes of Brendan Taylor, Waller, Masakadza etc. can we get articles on them please.

Posted by Googlyseamer on (February 17, 2014, 16:53 GMT)

I concur with the comment regarding his 100 being the highlight rather than say a test win by zimbabwe demonstrates some selfishness. These memoirs by old retired zimbabwean players is getting quite old now. Sean Ervine didn't take long to quit the zim team and at a time when things were waaaaay more stable than now. He stated publicly he had ambitions to play for Australia (while a WA player) or England (while playing for Hampshire). Test cricket was just a stepping stone for him. Many of these so called old timer zim "greats" that have been profiled didnt have much loyalty to grassroots zimbabwean cricket. Not long ago we had a profile on Murray Goodwin who realistically spent most of his life living in Australia and only used zim cricket to get test caps. Since moving back to Australia hasn't contributed a thing to zimbabwean cricket. The likes of Heath Streak, Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell are Zimbos through and through and still contribute.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 23:20 GMT)

Nice article. I'm glad he's enjoying his cricket in Hampshire and Western Australia. He's a decent player and comes across as a nice guy and I don't think anyone (apart from the infamous ZCFOutkast) can begrudge the man for taking up opportunities where he can improve his game and will actually get paid what he is due.

Of course in an ideal world, Zimbabwe would be able to keep all of their players. If so, they'd have a strong team and a strong Zimbabwe would be good for cricket. But the ZCF (and those who rule the country) only have themselves to blame for the player drain.

Maybe Kyle Jarvis isn't good enough to play for England (although given the current state of the England team he just might be!), but it's worth a shot because things don't look like changing in Zimbabwe anytime soon.

Posted by grahaam on (February 14, 2014, 16:42 GMT)

Nice article about a lad intelligent enough to realise the chances of a decent living in cricket were away from the land he loves..I guess Hampshire pay wages to their players , which is an added bonus..Great player , nice man.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (February 14, 2014, 8:23 GMT)

@Cuzzer, you're quite right. For him to say it was "extremely hard" to quit Zimbabwe, he couldn't be further from the truth! Didn't even bat an eyelid when the thoughts crossed his mind. It happened just like he said - "I'm out" at the first opportunity! Like Kyle Jarvis - who will soon be 2nd XI county club hopping like Anthony Ireland - I reckon Sean would've left even if there was no crisis. Neither needed a second invitation. He wanted to play for England remember. Thought he was good enough. Poor boy!

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 1:31 GMT)

I used to have Sean Ervine in my online fantasy cricket team. Initially I picked him because he came at a very low cost but his returns were pretty good.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 20:55 GMT)

@Rajit- I can promise you that is what was written initially!

Posted by CodandChips on (February 13, 2014, 17:46 GMT)

"Ben Stokes. I reckon they're all a bit different up north. I wouldn't fancy it."

A great line. Liam Dawson and the pub quiz made me laugh.

Ervine for Hampshire has been a useful agressuve batsman imo. He always seems to pick up a wicket when bowling, but at the same time always gets clattered.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (February 13, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

@Cuzzer, you're quite right, he's rather self-absorbed. For him to say it was very "extremely hard" to quit Zimbabwe, he couldn't be further from the truth! He didn't even bat an eyelid when the thoughts crossed his mind. Like he said "I'm out" at the first opportunity! Just like Kyle Jarvis - who will soon be 2nd XI county club hopping like Anthony Ireland - I reckon Sean would've left even if there was no crisis. He wanted to play for England remember. Thought he was good enough. Poor boy!

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 12:24 GMT)

that was a quality Zim side, he is right when he says they were going places. Streak, the Flowers, Goodwin, Ervine, Price, Taibu, would jave been a good side in time.

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