Innocent Chinyoka - biography

John Ward

March 15, 2002

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FULL NAME: Innocent Murambiwa Chinyoka
BORN: At Harare, 21 June 1982
MAJOR TEAMS: CFX Academy (2001/02). Present club side: Uprising
KNOWN AS: Innocent Chinyoka. Nickname: Snake (`nyoka' in Shona)
BATTING STYLE: Right Hand Bat
BOWLING STYLE: Right Arm Medium Pace
OCCUPATION: CFX Academy student

FIRST-CLASS DEBUT: 15-17 February 2002, CFX Academy v Manicaland, at Mutare Sports Club
TEST DEBUT: Still awaited
ODI DEBUT: Still awaited

BIOGRAPHY (March 2002)

One of the 2002 Academy students who came seemingly out of nowhere to make a name for himself as an all-rounder was Innocent Chinyoka. He had not previously played first-league cricket, but from his first match in first-class cricket he was scoring useful runs, taking good wickets and particularly impressing in the field.

Like most current black players, he has no family background in the game, but first gained an interest when in Grade 5 at David Livingstone Primary School in Harare. He did not play for the colts team, but later made his way into the school senior team. He remembers his main performance as the sixties he scored against Selborne Routledge and Banket schools. He also won success as a seam bowler.

He progressed to Allan Wilson High School in Harare, playing for the school's age-group teams throughout. He does not feel he achieved much success there, as the school did not really promote sport, and he was never in the running for any national or even provincial representative teams. In 1998 he joined Harare Sports Club, persuaded to join by friends from the neighbouring Prince Edward School. He did not stay there long, but switched to Uprising, a development club side based at Prince Edward and at that time playing in the national fourth league; they have now progressed to the second league.

At the end of that year Innocent finished his O-levels and left school. In December 1999 he went to England for nine months, playing cricket during the summer of 2000 for Wayfarers in Bournemouth. He struggled at the beginning, but then turned in some useful all-round performances.

Returning to Zimbabwe, he enjoyed success for Uprising, scoring 167 against Kwekwe Queens club, his highest score to date in any class of cricket. Against Universals seconds he took five wickets for 12 runs, also his career best bowling. He applied for the Academy for 2002 and was accepted.

As a batsman Innocent likes to open, and he drives and cuts well. "It's a good challenge to face the new ball," he says. He swings the ball predominantly into the bat. He is an outstanding fielder at backward point in particular, but also took some superb catches for the Academy in the gully area.

Interestingly, Innocent names his mother as the biggest influence on his career, feeling he owes everything to her for her support, providing him with the necessary equipment and encouragement. On the coaching side, he names Claudius Mukandiwa, player-coach at Uprising, as his major influence.

"Right now my cricket is still primary," he admits. "I want to make sure the Academy does good for me and I'll keep working hard."

Cricket heroes: Viv Richards - "he's a legend"; Andy Flower.

Toughest opponents: So far, as a bowler Henry Olonga. As a batsman, Neil Ferreira from Manicaland.

Proudest achievement so far: My selection for the Academy.

Best friends in cricket: Luther Mutyambizi (Midlands), David Mutendera, Amos Maungwa.

Other qualifications: O-levels.

Other sports: Rugby - played scrum-half for Mashonaland Under-16 and Under-19 teams.

Outside interests: Music and reading.

Views on cricket: "They could improve on the umpiring!"

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