July 14, 2012

Zimbabwe

Giving up cricket for Him

Andrew Hughes
Tatenda Taibu is thrilled after James Franklin is run out, New Zealand v Zimbabwe, 2nd Twenty20 international, Hamilton, February 14, 2012
Tatenda Taibu: soon to put his appealing skills to good use  © Getty Images
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

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

RSS Feeds: Andrew Hughes

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mrs Doyle on (July 16, 2012, 21:16 GMT)

that, I think, is an ecumenical matter

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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"

Posted by 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

Posted by chris on (July 14, 2012, 22:35 GMT)

nice humour

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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!

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

All articles by this writer