Trevor Madondo: updated biography

John Ward

January 4, 2002

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FULL NAME: Trevor Nyasha Madondo
BORN: 22 November 1976, Mount Darwin
DIED: 11 June 2001, Harare
MAJOR TEAMS: Matabeleland. Present club teams: Old Miltonians (Bulawayo), Old Hararians (Harare)
KNOWN AS: Trevor Madondo. Nickname "Baby Chingokes", from a supposed resemblance to ZCU President Peter Chingoka
BATTING STYLE: Right Hand Bat
BOWLING STYLE: Right Arm Medium Pace. Occasional wicket-keeper
OCCUPATION: Professional cricketer.

FIRST-CLASS DEBUT: Matabeleland v Glamorgan, at Bulawayo Athletic Club, 11-13 April 1995
TEST DEBUT: Zimbabwe v Pakistan, at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 13-17 March 1998
ODI DEBUT: Zimbabwe v India, at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 26 September 1998

Biography (updated December 2001)

The unexpected death of Trevor Madondo in June 2001, at the age of 24, robbed Zimbabwe of perhaps its most promising black batsman. He had not always used his talents or lived his life wisely, but his potential was great and, as national coach Carl Rackemann said, "He was a rich talent that everyone hoped we would one day see blossom."

Only months before, he had recorded two high-quality seventies, one against India in a one-day international and the other against New Zealand in a Test match. His team-mates were happy with his attitude, which had been questioned in the past, but on his return to Zimbabwe lack of form and another disciplinary problem meant that he did not play against Bangladesh.

Then he fell ill with cerebral malaria, was brought from Mutare to hospital in Harare, complications set in, and he died while the Indian tourists were in the country. The Zimbabwe team wore black armbands in the ensuing Test match against India, and captain Heath Streak dedicated their eventual victory to Trevor.

Trevor had been the first black cricketer to be selected for Zimbabwe as a batsman, his three predecessors all being pace bowlers. Making his debut on his home ground at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, against Pakistan in March 1998, he walked to the crease just after tea on the first day. His partner was Grant Flower, and the innings was at a crucial stage, with five wickets down for just 123 runs.

In those few minutes before the close, Trevor announced himself as a batsman of great, if raw, potential, with three superb strokes. He got off the mark with a sweet off-drive for three, and then drove a full toss from Waqar Younis to the sightscreen. Then he pulled Saqlain Mushtaq fiercely to the midwicket boundary, before bad light stopped play.

Unfortunately it was to prove his only good day with the bat in the two-match series. He was soon out, caught in the slips, the following morning. In Harare, he was run out in the first innings without facing a ball, an incident which was widely interpreted as inexperience, and never looked comfortable in scoring just two singles in the second innings. He missed the one-day series and the one-day tournament in India due to a leg injury. But that one evening in Bulawayo had shown clearly that this man had the ability to develop into a quality player with a unique style. It was important to cricket in Zimbabwe that he did so, as the country badly needs a batting role model for young black children.

Like most other black players, Trevor had no family background in the game. His family originated in the Rusape-Mutare area, but his father's career -- he is now a chief Agritex extension officer -- resulted in their moving around the country regularly. They lived in the Mount Darwin area, north of Harare and not far from the Zambezi escarpment, until Trevor was about six years old, before moving on to Bindura.

Trevor himself was sent to boarding school at Lilfordia, about 20 kilometres west of Harare, and this was to prove crucial in his sporting life. The headmaster was Mr Iain Campbell, father of the current national captain, and he inspired and nurtured young Trevor's cricketing talent, which was evident from the start. He was talented enough to win a place in the Colts cricket team in Grade 3, playing in the company of boys mainly a year or more older than he; by the time he was in Grade 5, he was playing in the school first team. In those days he played as an opening bowler and generally batted at number four; he did not keep wicket until he went to high school. He also played for Lilfordia at hockey and rugby.

In Grade 6, he was good enough to be selected for the Partridges, the national primary schools cricket team. He was not chosen when in Grade 7, though, as he was about six weeks too old for that age-group, although that season he averaged 84 in about 40 matches for Lilfordia. He scored five centuries, of which he remembered his 108 against Rydings School, probably his first century, as the most memorable. He also took seven wickets for 14 runs against the powerful Ruzawi team. In 1989 he won selection for the Mashonaland Country Districts primary schools team that toured England in 1989, but he produced nothing memorable in any of these representative appearances.

His parents' choice of high school likewise could not have been better, as he attended Falcon College, which has produced so many of Zimbabwe's Test players. Trevor felt that he did little during his first two years there, although playing in the A team for his age group. He now began to keep wicket, though, and this led to his being chosen for the Fawns, the national Under-15 team. This surprised him as he had not thought he had done well enough. He went on the Fawns tour of Namibia in 1992, but again without producing anything memorable. He paid tribute to Richard Harrison, his Falcon coach at Under-14 and Under-15 levels, who was a great help, not so much technically but very supportive and able to inspire him and arouse his motivation.

His best year at Falcon was his Lower Sixth year, and he represented Zimbabwe Schools in South Africa for two years. For the latter, he felt that his best innings was played in a match against Natal when his team needed 220 to win in quick time. He scored a fifty off about 30 balls, but was not quite able to turn a draw into a win for his side.

Trevor was still at school when he was chosen to make his first-class debut, as a wicket-keeper, for Matabeleland against the touring county team Glamorgan. He was already playing club cricket for Old Miltonians, and had several thirties and forties to his credit without going on to greater things. Although his keeping was not yet up to the mark at first-class level, confident innings of 48 and 36 made a good impression. He was to play in only one more first-class match, an unsuccessful Logan Cup appearance against Mashonaland, before the selectors plucked him seemingly out of nowhere to play Test cricket.

After leaving school in 1995, he won a place at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He played in the first team at Rhodes, his highest score being a 77 against a local club team. He played as a batsman who could bowl rather than keep wicket, and took plenty of threeand four-wicket hauls. His university commitments prevented him from playing more regularly for Matabeleland, but the selectors proved they had not forgotten him when they selected him to make his Test debut. However, after two years at the university he decided to leave and pursue a sporting career more vigorously.

It was not really from `nowhere', however, that the selectors chose him to play Test cricket. Although his university studies again prevented him from representing Matabeleland in the Logan Cup, he was a regular selection for the Zimbabwe Board XI to play in the UCBSA Bowl competition, when available. He scored 86 against Transvaal B, followed by 42 in the one-day game; at home, he scored 77 against Durham University and an unbeaten seventy in a club match against Queens. Although he did not reach a century, he earned a reputation as being a good player of pace bowling. He frequently found himself scoring his first 15 runs or so with little difficulty, but failing to go on to build a big innings; he was certain that the problem was mental rather than technical, and nothing that greater experience cannot put right.

Another weakness in his game was that he tended to go for `big shots' all the time without attempting to work the ball around the field for singles, but on the even of his departure for Zimbabwe's extended tour in 2000/01 he believed he was now putting that right. "I feel I've been working well with my running between the wickets, and I think it's part of my game that has developed. For example, when we played that first-class game against Manicaland in Mutare, I was working the ones and twos, and that's basically the last time I've played first-class cricket."

In 1999 Trevor became a member of the first intake of the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy, but it was not a trouble-free year. He had a tendency towards a rather wild, undisciplined lifestyle and this landed him in trouble with the authorities at times, a problem exacerbated by the tendency of some, especially one or two members of the local press, to claim that it was a matter of racial discrimination. Given the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's eagerness to promote black cricketers and the fact that there have never been any real problems with other black players, this was hardly likely, but it is possible that cultural differences may have led to misunderstandings at times.

Others feel that because of the sensitive racial situation in the country, the authorities were not strict enough with Trevor and that their reluctance to be firm encouraged him to think he could get away with too much. Trevor himself was not willing to talk about these issues, but whatever the situation, there was no doubt that it affected his cricket. He was unfortunate in having to fight for a place in the national side when there were several other young players of similar ability around, and he felt he was not been given enough opportunities.

When it was suggested that during 2000 that Trevor had not made the progress that had been hoped for from him, he said, "I think within the context I have come along with my game. With the competition of Johnson and Goodwin there it was always going to be difficult to find a permanent place in the team, so it was just a case of taking the opportunities when they come. In the last couple of years I don't think I've had as many opportunities as I'd have liked, so I think as a result it may appear that my game hasn't developed. But I'm pretty content with the way it's going. I've been working hard on my game, and it may be through ignorance that I don't know which aspects of my game to work on, but I've been trying to work on all aspects of my game."

Trevor was selected to open in two one-day internationals against India in 1998/99, but scored only 10 and 0, unluckily run out in the second match when he received a painful blow on the hand and was understandably slow to respond to his partner's overenthusiastic call for a quick single. But he did not really look the part as an opener and was replaced by Craig Wishart, who promptly scored a century. Yet Wishart too has suffered at the hands of the selectors.

The following season Trevor was given four matches in a row, batting at number three or four against Australia and Sri Lanka, after scoring 59 in a first-class warm-up match against the Australians, but his top score was only 29. In the second match against Sri Lanka he struggled to score only four runs off 22 balls in a tight game, and this proved disastrous for his side, which lost momentum and eventually the game. He was dropped after this, to be replaced by Stuart Carlisle, who two matches later responded with a century. Trevor was chosen to Sri Lanka with the Zimbabwe A side but did not actually go for disciplinary reasons.

He played two matches for Manicaland, his home area, in the Logan Cup of 1999/2000, but missed half the programme for personal reasons. The 2000/01 season was a vital one for him to do well. He was selected for the extended tour to Sharjah, India, New Zealand and Australia, but did not appear in an international match until the fourth one-day international against India, when he was again required to open the batting with Alistair Campbell.

This time he did better, with scores of 32 (joint top) and 71 (top), the latter innings coming off 70 balls and allowing Zimbabwe to make a spirited, although eventually unsuccessful, start to their attempt to reach the target of 302. Then came four failures in New Zealand and Australia, and he again lost his place in the team. In between, though, he had made a Test reappearance in the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in Wellington, when he scored an impressive 74 not out at number six.

It appeared he was on his way up, but tragically the first one-day international of the triangular tournament in Australia was the end of his international career, unknown to anyone at the time. It was a tragic loss of a young life just at the time when he appeared to be on the verge of a significant and fruitful career in international cricket.

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