Zimbabwe July 14, 2012

Giving up cricket for Him

But does He want you to?
18

There are many reasons to retire from international cricket: because you’ve always wanted to work with Danny Morrison; because the colour of the new one-day shirt clashes with your neck tattoo; because when your partner draws the curtain on the morning after a match you creak like a recently disinterred Egyptian mummy; because the idea of being clapped through one more round of press-ups and shuttle runs by an adrenalin-crazed cone botherer with a loud hailer is more than flesh and blood can stand.

But Tatenda Taibu, the youngest ever Test captain, is to retire at 29 because he’s heard the call. Not the kind of call you get from a sheepish chairman of selectors assuring you that it is nothing personal and that you’re very much a part of future plans. No, this is a different kind of call altogether.

“My true calling now comes in doing the Lord’s work.”

He didn’t say what that work might be. Is there much demand in the church for leaping sideways at short notice or swishing a piece of wood in a belligerent fashion? Cynics have suggested that he may have one eye on becoming a Kolpak Reverend in the Church of England and it’s worth noting that the General Synod XI has been without a decent wicketkeeper ever since the Bishop of Chichester sprained his mitre taking a low one against the Buddha Barracudas.

God, characteristically, has remained silent on the issue. However, I’m on good terms with the Almighty and I happen to know that He’s slightly aggrieved. It’s bad enough when cricketers start thanking Him for helping them get a lucky wicket with a long hop or for giving them the strength to bring up their fifty with a streaky inside edge. He has, on occasion, picked sides (the Israelites, Worcestershire) but by and large, He’s neutral. And He loves His cricket.

So this latest development has not gone down well upstairs. Prayerful devotees are ten-a-penny but international class Zimbabwean wicketkeepers are rather thinner on the ground. And what if it catches on? He was lining Zimbabwe up for an unlikely World T20 success in the autumn, but if the players start quitting to take holy orders, what’s He supposed to do?* Turning water into wine is one thing, but fixing things so a Zimbabwe Reserve XI can win an international trophy might be pushing it a bit.

So I suggest you reconsider, Tatenda. As it says in the Book of Flower, “In Zimbabwean cricket, many are called and most of them are chosen, but few of them are any good.” There’ll be plenty of time when you’re past it (37 ½ ) to spread the word or fight the good fight or to do whatever it is that church types like to get up to, but for the next few years, your country needs you.

* Though, I do think that Ray Price would make a splendid Methodist preacher. His in-your-face sermonising and tendency to resort to unholy expletives might not be to every congregation’s taste, but there’d be no arguing with his conversion rate.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mrs Doyle on July 16, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    that, I think, is an ecumenical matter

  • Andrew on July 16, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Raj. I am also proud of Taibu as one of the best black African cricketers. But you are wrong that he rose up by himself despite racist 'apartheid' oppression by whites. In fact, Taibu would never have had a chance if he was not discovered and nurtured by the very people you are claiming were oppressive. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union had outreach programmes in townships where they dicovered Taibu, Masakadza, Chigumbura, Matsikenyeri and co and they gave them scholarships to a good cricket school and then places at the cricket academy. Guys like Dave Houghton and Andy Flower were crucial to their development. Taibu was directly tutored by Andy Flower and that is why he is such a good player of spin. So please don't put an agenda onto this that is not based on fact. Zimbabwe is not South Africa and its not our fault if SA has failed to develop its own black cricketers.

  • mignik on July 15, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    You know i respect his decision and that's all i have to say even though i'd like to loose scientists or engineers or doctors to something like this. He is just a cricketer.

  • sreekiran on July 15, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    Mr. Hughes, no one never knows what happens next minute, how can you say Taibu can spread the word after 37. The purpose of human life on earth is to glorify the almighty with in the years He has granted with all strength and might. I think Taibu has taken a right stand at right moment.

  • Sam on July 15, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    HAHAHA This article is hilarious! Great write-up!

    Good luck to TT in his chosen path, as disappointing as it may be...

  • Tharanga Guruge on July 15, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    He's still 29 years old i think he gonna regret this There are many people who can work for the GOD but you can't find good 11 players to play for your country.

    If GOD can call Taibu's phone he gonna say "Are you crazy?! If you quit now, you get NOTHING out of all your ,coaches & many other's hard work . Learn to finish what you start & don't expect me to give you a FREE ticket to heaven"

  • Raj Dayal on July 15, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    It's a sad time when in the same week two outstanding cricketers are leaving the international Arena - one an icon for all Africans [Taibu] and the other the true gentleman cricketer [Lee]

    All Africans were highly pleased when Tatenda Taibu was given the captaincy of Zimbawe which for a long period of time was part of the South African scene with no place for non-whites. Further as stated above he was one of the youngest ever test captain.

    Tatenda did an excellent job and like all Africans I urge him to give us a few more years - the Lord is patient and will still welcome him with open arms

  • chris on July 14, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    nice humour

  • Binu Thomas on July 14, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Are you mocking Taibu for his decision? What- can't he do something that he wants to do? What if he retired because he wanted to start a business of his own? Or if he got a contract from 20th Century Fox to be the main part in a superhero movie series? Would that have been okay? Or is it that people can quick Cricket only for the reasons approved by Mr_Hughes_the_Highness?

  • Andrew on July 14, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    Thank you for this hilarious piece Andrew! As a Zimbabwean cricket fan and a Christian at that I fully agree that the Good Lord can, and should wait a few years. As you say, devotees are two a penny, but the likes of Tatenda Taibu are a very rare breed in Zimbabwe. He needs to reconsider. As for Ray Price, I love your suggestion for this fire and brimstone spinner's next phase of life!

  • Mrs Doyle on July 16, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    that, I think, is an ecumenical matter

  • Andrew on July 16, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Raj. I am also proud of Taibu as one of the best black African cricketers. But you are wrong that he rose up by himself despite racist 'apartheid' oppression by whites. In fact, Taibu would never have had a chance if he was not discovered and nurtured by the very people you are claiming were oppressive. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union had outreach programmes in townships where they dicovered Taibu, Masakadza, Chigumbura, Matsikenyeri and co and they gave them scholarships to a good cricket school and then places at the cricket academy. Guys like Dave Houghton and Andy Flower were crucial to their development. Taibu was directly tutored by Andy Flower and that is why he is such a good player of spin. So please don't put an agenda onto this that is not based on fact. Zimbabwe is not South Africa and its not our fault if SA has failed to develop its own black cricketers.

  • mignik on July 15, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    You know i respect his decision and that's all i have to say even though i'd like to loose scientists or engineers or doctors to something like this. He is just a cricketer.

  • sreekiran on July 15, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    Mr. Hughes, no one never knows what happens next minute, how can you say Taibu can spread the word after 37. The purpose of human life on earth is to glorify the almighty with in the years He has granted with all strength and might. I think Taibu has taken a right stand at right moment.

  • Sam on July 15, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    HAHAHA This article is hilarious! Great write-up!

    Good luck to TT in his chosen path, as disappointing as it may be...

  • Tharanga Guruge on July 15, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    He's still 29 years old i think he gonna regret this There are many people who can work for the GOD but you can't find good 11 players to play for your country.

    If GOD can call Taibu's phone he gonna say "Are you crazy?! If you quit now, you get NOTHING out of all your ,coaches & many other's hard work . Learn to finish what you start & don't expect me to give you a FREE ticket to heaven"

  • Raj Dayal on July 15, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    It's a sad time when in the same week two outstanding cricketers are leaving the international Arena - one an icon for all Africans [Taibu] and the other the true gentleman cricketer [Lee]

    All Africans were highly pleased when Tatenda Taibu was given the captaincy of Zimbawe which for a long period of time was part of the South African scene with no place for non-whites. Further as stated above he was one of the youngest ever test captain.

    Tatenda did an excellent job and like all Africans I urge him to give us a few more years - the Lord is patient and will still welcome him with open arms

  • chris on July 14, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    nice humour

  • Binu Thomas on July 14, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Are you mocking Taibu for his decision? What- can't he do something that he wants to do? What if he retired because he wanted to start a business of his own? Or if he got a contract from 20th Century Fox to be the main part in a superhero movie series? Would that have been okay? Or is it that people can quick Cricket only for the reasons approved by Mr_Hughes_the_Highness?

  • Andrew on July 14, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    Thank you for this hilarious piece Andrew! As a Zimbabwean cricket fan and a Christian at that I fully agree that the Good Lord can, and should wait a few years. As you say, devotees are two a penny, but the likes of Tatenda Taibu are a very rare breed in Zimbabwe. He needs to reconsider. As for Ray Price, I love your suggestion for this fire and brimstone spinner's next phase of life!

  • sean smith on July 14, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    it is always ggod to be engaged with god work. However u have done enough to zimbabwe cricket

  • John on July 14, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Very very funny. Can you also find out (with your good connections) from the almighty what his plans are for me 'cos I am going thru a very difficult divorce.

    thanks John

  • Andrew on July 14, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    What a load of rubbish Mr Hughes! If your point was 'His Work' can wait, Zim Cricket needs you more then He does - then (a) there were far better ways to make it (b) how do you know? apart from your rather childish reasoning that 'Prayerful Devotees a ten-a-penny'?

  • Abhijeet on July 14, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Truer words have never been spoken...

  • Mehul on July 14, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    Amen to the article brother ! Lord have mercy !!

  • Raj on July 14, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    It is sad to see the loss of two excellent cricketers. Brett Lee was an example of true "Cricketing Gentleman" - surprisingly in an Australian team that had fair share of mongrels [that coach Arthur is pining for] as well guys who had perfected the art of sledging.

    Tatenda Taibu is well aware that the presence of Blacks in the international cricket fields is, I believe, only a recent event. To see such an outstanding cricketer who is icon for Blacks in all Africa leave the sport now is disastrous. Please Tatenda reconsider your decision from a fellow African who grew up in the Apartheid years and was well aware how World Sports lost because of duscmination against Blacks!

  • uinhe on July 14, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    no reason to pick on tt for choosing what if felt is right, why hold it against him more than holding against KP to give up playing one day and t20. the choice is their's to make and lets just respect their choice

  • Lourens Grobbelaar on July 14, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    There are more important things in life than cricket, which is by definition a game. If one has not been called to work for God it is difficult to understand this. So I suspect it is for Andrew Hughes. You can however play cricket in such a way as to glorify God and at the same time work for God, but if He asks more, and you owe your life to Him, it becomes the only thing. Cricket has never saved a soul. God may take joy in how his children conduct them on the field, but that is it. So I only have to say blessings Tatenda. May you touch and make many lives whole through God's grace which has become available to all through the death of Jesus Christ.

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  • Lourens Grobbelaar on July 14, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    There are more important things in life than cricket, which is by definition a game. If one has not been called to work for God it is difficult to understand this. So I suspect it is for Andrew Hughes. You can however play cricket in such a way as to glorify God and at the same time work for God, but if He asks more, and you owe your life to Him, it becomes the only thing. Cricket has never saved a soul. God may take joy in how his children conduct them on the field, but that is it. So I only have to say blessings Tatenda. May you touch and make many lives whole through God's grace which has become available to all through the death of Jesus Christ.

  • uinhe on July 14, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    no reason to pick on tt for choosing what if felt is right, why hold it against him more than holding against KP to give up playing one day and t20. the choice is their's to make and lets just respect their choice

  • Raj on July 14, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    It is sad to see the loss of two excellent cricketers. Brett Lee was an example of true "Cricketing Gentleman" - surprisingly in an Australian team that had fair share of mongrels [that coach Arthur is pining for] as well guys who had perfected the art of sledging.

    Tatenda Taibu is well aware that the presence of Blacks in the international cricket fields is, I believe, only a recent event. To see such an outstanding cricketer who is icon for Blacks in all Africa leave the sport now is disastrous. Please Tatenda reconsider your decision from a fellow African who grew up in the Apartheid years and was well aware how World Sports lost because of duscmination against Blacks!

  • Mehul on July 14, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    Amen to the article brother ! Lord have mercy !!

  • Abhijeet on July 14, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Truer words have never been spoken...

  • Andrew on July 14, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    What a load of rubbish Mr Hughes! If your point was 'His Work' can wait, Zim Cricket needs you more then He does - then (a) there were far better ways to make it (b) how do you know? apart from your rather childish reasoning that 'Prayerful Devotees a ten-a-penny'?

  • John on July 14, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Very very funny. Can you also find out (with your good connections) from the almighty what his plans are for me 'cos I am going thru a very difficult divorce.

    thanks John

  • sean smith on July 14, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    it is always ggod to be engaged with god work. However u have done enough to zimbabwe cricket

  • Andrew on July 14, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    Thank you for this hilarious piece Andrew! As a Zimbabwean cricket fan and a Christian at that I fully agree that the Good Lord can, and should wait a few years. As you say, devotees are two a penny, but the likes of Tatenda Taibu are a very rare breed in Zimbabwe. He needs to reconsider. As for Ray Price, I love your suggestion for this fire and brimstone spinner's next phase of life!

  • Binu Thomas on July 14, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Are you mocking Taibu for his decision? What- can't he do something that he wants to do? What if he retired because he wanted to start a business of his own? Or if he got a contract from 20th Century Fox to be the main part in a superhero movie series? Would that have been okay? Or is it that people can quick Cricket only for the reasons approved by Mr_Hughes_the_Highness?