Cremer gives Zimbabwe's spin bowling a new turn

Graeme Cremer took seven wickets for 79 runs WICB Media Photo/Nicholas Reid

Ray Price's advice to fellow spinners is simply not to take themselves too seriously. He certainly didn't.

Too often, his job did that for him. He had to juggle stemming run-flow with trying to make timely breakthroughs because Zimbabwe depended on the slower bowlers to make up for what they lacked in the pace department: consistency.

Now, that's changed. With the luxury of four quicks steaming in, the spinner has a more traditional role and even though Price is no longer that man, it would have suited his personality perfectly. What's required is a different mixture of skills led by the enthusiasm not to get frustrated by featuring minimally in the first innings and coming back with the same intent to clean up in the second.

Graeme Cremer, who began life as a pace bowler at school but was forced to become a spinner when his first coach decided it would be the better option, is the man who has been tasked with that for now. Having finished the Logan Cup as the leading spinner with 28 wickets at an average of 19.25, he made a case to become the first-choice tweaker and has been in that position since Zimbabwe's tour to New Zealand last January. In the four Tests he has played since then, he has taken eight wickets at 21.63 and seems to be adjusting to his role of playing behind the quicks.

Cremer bowled only one over in the Bangladesh first innings in Harare while Kyle Jarvis and Shingi Masakadza sliced through. He did not get many more in the second but his 5.2 overs brought him four wickets for just four runs and he credits the quicks with creating the situation for him to finish off.

"It's good to get wickets with the new ball because it lifts the team and that lets me come in and take care of the last couple of wickets," he told ESPNcricinfo. "Zimbabwe have always relied heavily on our spinners, but it's good to see that there's now more competition among the seam bowlers."

For Brendan Taylor, it creates the perfect balance and gives him wicket-taking options all round. "It's nice to have four seamers to throw the ball to and to know they can strike upfront," Taylor said. "But I also know Graeme has done the bulk of the bowling at franchise level and I know what he can do. If the seamers strike upfront, a legspinner with his variations can make life difficult for the lower-order."

Cremer's attacking ability is not the only reason he has been preferred over Prosper Utseya, Natsai Mushangwe or even Price. Masakadza and Keegan Meth were preferred over Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori because of that. Cremer has strengthened his own case by putting emphasis on his batting and so fits in with Zimbabwe's policy of packing their lower order with bowling all-rounders.

He bettered his own highest Test score twice in the first match against Bangladesh and provided support for Taylor. "I did a lot of work on the mental side of batting, rather than just hitting balls," Cremer said. "I thought about my batting a lot and it seems to be working. I know if I keep scoring runs, I can be classed as an all-rounder which Zimbabwe needs." For that job, Cremer has to be far more serious but it's for a cause even Price would approve of.