LEG-spinner Graeme Cremer was last year named Zimbabwe national cricket team captain across all formats, but for a long time before that he looked destined to be one of those that would get away as he contemplated pursuing a new career path altogether — as a professional golfer.
By DANIEL NHAKANISO
After a pay dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), Cremer decided to pre-maturely bring down the curtains on his international cricket career at age 26 in April 2013.
And before the now 30-year-old legspinner returned to cricket in May 2015, he decided to take up golf and even seriously contemplated turning professional after impressively bringing down his handicap to scratch.
So serious was Cremer’s interest, the sport that he came agonisingly close to winning the club championship at Royal Harare for two consecutive years, in addition to another runner up finish at the 2014 Mashonaland South Amateur played annually at Kadoma and Cam & Motor Country Clubs.
Cremer even set up a golf shop in the capital called Golf Spot.
“I have always enjoyed golf and I started playing at a very young age, I think at about five or six and when I decided I wasn’t going to play cricket at that time, I decided to take it [golf] more seriously,” Cremer told Sports World in an interview on Friday.
“Initially it was not a difficult decision to choose cricket because I had always loved the sport and the idea of representing the country in a national team sport and that sort of swayed me to cricket.”
And when the circumstances at the time forced him to retrace his passion for golf, Cremer said he relished the opportunity.
“It was a very different experience; I enjoyed the fact that if I didn’t play well it only affected me and anyone else like when you are playing in a team sport. At the same time, I did miss that team bonding and camaraderie that you experience when you are in the cricket team. That played a part in my decision to return to cricket rather than pursue a professional golf career,” Cremer said.
Veteran professional golfer Terry Cairns, father to Sunshine Tour pro golfer Ryan, told Sports World that despite his age, Cremer could have been on his way to joining the paid ranks in golf had he decided to pursue it.
“I think he had a lot of potential to be quite honest. Obviously he was looking at taking it [golf] up as a career and even though it was a bit late in his career, he was 27 or 28 at the time, but depending on the effort someone puts in and how much they want it and knowing Graeme, I think he could have been successful,” he said.
In the end, however, what was a loss to golf turned up to be a gain for cricket as barely a year after his return to the latter, he was been appointed the stand-in Zimbabwe captain for the One-Day International and Twenty20 series against India.
Cremer, who has taken over the captaincy permanently, has played 15 Tests for Zimbabwe where he took 37 wickets since making his debut in Chittagong against Bangladesh in 2005.
He also played 74 One-Day-Internationals, taking 84 wickets in the process while he represented the country in 27 T-20 internationals.
Cremer will lead the Zimbabwe cricket team in their upcoming tours of Scotland, Netherlands and Sri Lanka this winter.