Zimbabwe cricket July 12, 2012

Meeting Tatenda Taibu

Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
At an open session organised for the media in Chennai, Taibu came across as an engaging young man. He had a ready smile, sparkling eyes, and stories to tell

News from Zimbabwe about Tatenda Taibu's decision to quit cricket for the church took me back to my only meeting with the man ahead of last year's 50-over World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

At an open session organised for the media in Chennai, Taibu came across as an engaging young man. He had a ready smile, sparkling eyes, and stories to tell. He laughed when he was told that his life had been quite a journey, starting as he did as an international cricketer at 18. "Yeah, as I tell them in the dressing room, 'take care of the old man, guys'," Taibu, 27 at that time, said, prompting laughter all around.

When talk veered to his family, the wicketkeeper-batsman said he had two sons: the elder, unimaginatively named Tatenda Junior, was "um, seven" at the time. The younger, only a few months old in February 2011, is called Gershom. Now, "if you know your Bible," said Taibu, Gershom means a stranger in a strange land, a name Moses had given his first-born son.

What struck me then was that Taibu himself had been a stranger in strange lands for quite some time after quitting the Zimbabwean set-up in 2005, plying his trade in Namibia and at one point declaring his intention to qualify for South Africa. But in 2011, after yet another comeback to the Zimbabwe team, Taibu appeared settled in his role as he hoped to "steal some fans from soccer to cricket" with a big performance in the World Cup. Now we know it was only a temporary refuge.

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