Sean Ervine February 13, 2014

'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

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.