Languishing in the depths of depression, misery and hopelessness, a faint voice inside him kept urging him to go to church.
Christopher Bobby Mpofu was a young fast bowler who had been thrust into stardom at the tender age of 19, making his One Day International (ODI) debut against England in November 2004 following the mass exodus of senior players from the Zimbabwe cricket team.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Inexperienced about life, with both his parents late but with greatness beckoning, Mpofu began to pick bad habits that would later threaten to prematurely ruin his promising cricket career.
Growing up in the dusty high density streets of Magwegwe in Bulawayo, Mpofu became known as the young man who drank like there was no tomorrow, abusing drugs and partying with reckless abandon.
Inevitably, his wayward life began to affect his cricket game as inconsistency crept in while mysterious injuries, acquired mainly from his bad habits, dogged him. He eventually lost his place in the national team.
Almost everything in his life hit rock bottom. He was up to his neck in debt and critics had written his career off.
Disillusioned, Mpofu became increasingly unhappy with his life and he found solace only in smoking and drinking.
But just like the proverbial prodigal son, he eventually came back to his senses and decided to retrace his footsteps to church, a place where his mother had taken him to years back when he was just an innocent boy.
One day in November of 2014, he came home late and his family was stunned when he told them where he had been.
“I didn’t tell anyone when I decided to go to church that evening. When I came back from church and told everyone at home that I was coming from church, they were stunned and did not believe me,” recalled the Zimbabwe pace bowler.
From that day on, he did not look back and things began falling back into place for the lanky cricketer.
An outstanding performance in the domestic Pro50 ODI season saw him emerge the highest wicket taker in the franchise league playing for finalists Tuskers, grabbing 19 wickets in 10 innings.
Mpofu was then called back to the national team for the Pakistan tour in May and was involved in the just ended T20 series against India where he would passionately point to the heavens each time he struck a wicket and more significantly when Zimbabwe won the 2nd T20 to level the series.
“I can say I got born again in November last year, that’s who I am right now. I can say I have changed and I have stopped doing all the bad things that I used to do. I honestly think it was God’s plan because as I reflected on my life, I realised I had wasted a good part of my last 10 years.
“Suddenly I felt I needed to go to church. There is a pastor I had met five years before and I decided to go see him and I told him about my life for the past 10 years. Having achieved very little in those years I now feel I have achieved a lot more in the past eight months that I have been born again,” he told Standardsport in an exclusive interview last week.
Mpofu has since also managed to bring a soul to Christ.
“I realised that God is so good because when I decided to go to church for the first time on a Sunday, my cousin Ziboniso Nyoni, his wife and my wife decided to accompany me. They wanted to prove I was really going to church for sure. And guess what? My cousin and his wife ended up getting born again that same day,” he chuckled.
Now the man who holds the international record for the fewest runs conceded without a maiden over in a full spell in T20 cricket, now belongs to Dominion Life Church in Bulawayo.
Mpofu says he is indebted to his pastor Phillip Chisale whom he feels was sent by God into his life to give him direction.
“You know what? I now have peace in me as a human being. A lot of people had written my career off and the fact that I had back injuries whose origin I couldn’t understand did not help matters. But ever since I started connecting with God, all the back pain I used to experience disappeared and my life has been a blessing,” the former Milton High school student said.
Mpofu also said he felt he was now a better player than he had ever been.
“I think I am actually getting better than I ever was as a bowler in terms of the skill, peace of mind, calmness, wisdom and maturity while I am also enjoying my game more. I promise you, there is even more to come,” he said.
Mpofu will be remembered for his oracle-inspired post-match comments when Zimbabwe lost the first T20 match to India by 54 runs.
Having achieved the second best bowling figures of 3/33 in the match, the Plumtree-born athlete was chosen to speak for the team as a positive figure in spite of defeat and he assured the nation a win was coming.
True to his prediction, Zimbabwe recorded that famous win two days later to level the series.
Turning 30 on November 27, Mpofu whose father passed on when he was very young, was raised by his mother’s sister in Magwegwe township of Bulawayo. His mother had also passed away when he was in Form Three.
He is married to Sindisiwe Tshuma and the couple is blessed with a two-year-old daughter Christriana Omuhle.