April 5, 2002

Patrick Gada - updated biography

FULL NAME: Patrick Kudzayi Gada
BORN: 5 May 1978, at Harare
MAJOR TEAMS: CFX Academy (1998/99), Manicaland (1999/2000-2000/01), Mashonaland (2001/02). Present club side: Takashinga
KNOWN AS: Patrick/Paddy Gada.
BATTING STYLE: Right Hand Bat
BOWLING STYLE: Right Arm Medium Fast
OCCUPATION: Professional cricketer
FIRST-CLASS DEBUT: CFX Academy v Australian Cricket Academy, at Alexandra Sports Club, 27-29 March 1999
TEST DEBUT: Still awaited
ODI DEBUT: Still awaited

BIOGRAPHY (updated March 2002)

Patrick Gada, Academy student in 1999, is one of the most promising young all-rounders in Zimbabwe. He is highly rated for his attitude and self-discipline. He is a non-smoker and does not drink alcohol; from a young age he practised hard and worked on his fitness. He is a pleasant and quietly-spoken young man who deserves to go far in the game.

Like most black players at the present, Patrick has no family background in cricket, although his family has always been very enthusiastic about soccer. His interest in cricket began at Chengu Primary School in Highfield, a high-density suburb of Harare, and he well remembers the times when Dave Houghton used to come and coach. Later on Lazarus Zizhou and Dave Levy took over, and both had much to do with developing Patrick's interests and skills. Patrick has always been first and foremost a batsman, but he has kept up his medium-paced bowling and occasionally bowls useful off-spin as well. He opened both batting and bowling from a young age.

His first match, as far as he remembers, took place when he was about ten years of age. Once he scored 125 in a thirty-over game, when he was captaining his team, and won the Willards Trophy for his school. He took part in the national primary schools cricket week, captaining the Harare South team and being selected for the national B team.

He progressed to Prince Edward High School, having been offered a place there by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union because of his cricketing potential. He had also been offered a place at Chinhoyi High School, but preferred Prince Edward mainly because of the better sporting and academic opportunities it provided. He was immediately appointed as captain of the Under-13 team and progressed up the school year by year. He remembers his best scores when he reached the first team as being 90 against St John's and 78 against Eaglesvale, batting at number four. He used to bowl regularly as well, opening the bowling at times and taking useful wickets, with seven in an innings being his best performance. In 1995 he went on tour to England with the school team. He names the late `Bunny' Brereton as the high-school coach who helped him the most.

At school Patrick was also an athlete, notably in triple jump and long jump. He played rugby and soccer as well, but cricket remained his premier sport. He played his first club match in 1992, for Bionics Cricket Club, which became in turn Hungwe, Winstonians and now Takashinga.

In 1993 Patrick was selected for the Mashonaland Under-15 team, where he did well and was a reserve for the national side; he progressed to the Mashonaland Under-19 team along with such players as Brian Murphy, Gavin Rennie, Darlington and Everton Matambanadzo and Gary Brent. Even at the age of 16 he made some good scores, but just missed selection for the national side. He left high school after gaining his O-Levels in Form Four, but hopes to improve his academic qualifications at some time in the future.

He followed his cricket interests, doing some coaching privately in the high-density areas and assisting the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and the Mashonaland Cricket Association on a private, part-time basis. In 1995/96 he began to play for Old Hararians Sports Club, coaching and practising in Highfield and at Harare Sports Club during the off season. His best club performance has been 96 not out against Kwekwe in 2001/02. In 1998 he was encouraged by the Old Hararians captain Trevor Penney to apply for the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy, and he was accepted for the 1999 season.

His main memory of that year, along with many other students, was the visit of the Australian Cricket Academy team, which completely outclassed the local academy, mainly due to the express pace of Brett Lee who terrorized the locals and caused Patrick himself much concern. "It was a great turning point for all the Academy guys," he says.

From 1999 Patrick played and coached in England. It was a good experience, although he found the pitches too slow, sub-standard and uncovered. He did learn to adapt to the various pitches, both good and bad. In the years 2000 and 2001 he played for Preston Nomads in Sussex, enjoying both seasons with bat and ball. "It is always good fun and experience playing in the UK," he says.

After leaving the Academy, Patrick went to Manicaland for the remaining two years of his Academy contract. He opened the batting for them in the Logan Cup and played some useful innings, gradually finding the confidence to play his strokes more readily at that level.

In September and October 2001, after the English season, he also visited the United States of America and played in Florida and Hartford, Connecticut. He came across some good players, especially from the West Indies, and had a good time both on and off the field. On his return, having completed his three-year contract with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, he decided to return from Manicaland to Mashonaland, especially as he had family responsibilities after the death of his mother. He signed a new contract and returned to Takashinga, who are now based in his home town of Highfield. He enjoyed a good all-round season in the national league, and expected to finish with the most wickets and the best bowling average for the league season.

As a batsman his main attribute, he feels, is his concentration and the ability to bat for long periods of time, while as yet he is not fully fluent with his strokes at the top level. He is a strong back-foot player, scoring the majority of his runs on the on side and square of the wicket, while he also cuts well. He admits to having difficulty with the moving ball outside the off stump but is working on the problem. He is happy to open the innings, but given the choice feels he would prefer number four or five. He usually fields in the middle distance or in the gully. He has a very safe pair of hands and enjoys fielding, and is fairly quick to the ball.

Cricket heroes: Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Graham Gooch.

Toughest opponents: "Brett Lee still sticks out in my mind, no doubt about that, for his express pace! I would love to face him again sometime, hopefully take him on, but if not to stick around for a long period."

Future ambitions: "I hope to stay in the game and keep working on my game all the time. It will take time, but I hope to keep improving. I would like to play cricket at the highest possible level, and do well. I also want to assist youngsters as we keep trying to build up Zimbabwean cricket. My biggest wish at the moment is to represent Zimbabwe in the coming World Cup as we host all our home games."

Biggest influences: "My late mother, my dad in Highfield, my family and good friends all around the world."

Proudest achievement: "I remember when I was captain of Harare South and my junior school in Highfield, the England A side came over, including Michael Atherton, Neil Fairbrother, Derek Pringle and `Sid' Lawrence, in 1989/90, and I got an autographed bat from them. Then I was rated High Glen Best Junior Batsman, in 1990. Also when I was awarded my cricket colours at Prince Edward High School in 1994 for the most outstanding performance and service. Also meeting the master King Viv Richards at the Malcolm Marshall Memorial match in London in 2000, and again in America in 2001, in Hartford, Connecticut."

Best friends in cricket: "Amos Maungwa - he's always out there, he tries very hard and we play and practise together for Takashinga. All those who love the game and always think positively. My late mother and all my remaining family for all their trust, love and encouragement; Devon Malcolm, the Hopkins family and Mr John Smith, all in Sussex, England."

Other interests: "I like reading, especially cricket magazines and current information. I like fitness training; every time I'm free I go out and work on my fitness. I also like listening to music and watching cricket on television or on tape."

Personal views: "I would like to help juniors coming up and offer a helping hand from the knowledge I've gained from the game so far. I can't wait to see Zimbabwe get on top of world cricket and dominate more than West Indies did and more than Australia will ever do. My young players for the future are team-mates Tatenda Taibu, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Hamilton Masakadza, and Joe Gatting (son of Mike) who plays for Preston Nomads and Sussex CCC juniors. My motto in life is to respect and learn from others, and above all give thanks to the Almighty."