‘This boy has great potential’

Roy Kaia

Roy Kaia

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ZIMBABWE national cricket team coach Dav Whatmore had never seen Roy Kaia in action when he decided to give the batsman his national team call-up three weeks ago.

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But numbers don’t usually lie.

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Now, after three weeks of working closely with the 23-year-old Manicaland Mountaineers man, Whatmore boldly declares: “Roy is great potential.”

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He goes on: “He had a very good domestic season, he had the highest aggregate, he seriously deserved the promotion. We have to see what we are presented with (in Pakistan next week), but this boy is great potential.”

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Whatmore should know what he’s talking about. He has been around the block more than a few times and Kaia’s stats back-up the coach’s glowing assessment.

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A healthy average of 76,40 in nine List A matches saw Kaia finish as the top run-getter in the Pro 50 Championship 2014-15 season. Amid the excitement created by his inclusion in the squad that is set to tour Pakistan, the top order batsman is not getting carried away.

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“I know international cricket is different from the domestic game,” says Kaia. “I have to take it one game at a time and learn from there. I am not looking to be over-confident, I want to play cricket the way I know . . . international cricket is not easy.

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“Training has been going on well, the senior guys are telling me not to put myself under pressure and play my natural game. That is what I am doing and so far so good.”

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Whatmore has been a constant source of inspiration.

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“He always tells me positives and I think he has faith that I can be a better cricketer. I have really felt like I am part of the group, because the coach has been giving confidence. I am trying to overcome my fears and I can only achieve that by practicing the correct things.”

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Hard work got Kaia to this level and the youngster, who came through the famed Takashinga Cricket Academy, appreciates that staying in the national team set-up requires more.

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“After the national team practice I go to Takashinga to hit balls for about two-and-a-half hours. If I am not hitting balls, I run.

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“Practice is what got me here . . . and I want to be a different player,” says Kaia, whose brothers Innocent and Knowledge are also involved in the game.

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Innocent plays club cricket for Worcester Nomads in England ,while Knowledge is a former First Class cricketer who now plays for Takashinga.

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Kaia is humbled to be training in national colours with his hero Hamilton Masakadza.

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“It is an honour to train with the senior guys. As a youngster it was always a dream to play in the same team as Hammy . . . wearing national colours.”

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He recalls the day he received the call to report for national duty.

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“I received a call from the manager (Chris Chieti) telling me to attend the national team practice. I was in the midst of an off-season two-day match at Takashinga when that call came.

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“I remember on the first training day when I got to the ground at CFX the manager introduced me to Dav, who had not seen me before. The first thing Dav said to me was ‘congratulations for making the squad, you deserve it’. That message took away all the butterflies I had in my tummy,” Kaia laughs.