TINO Mawoyo won’t reveal how much weight he has lost, but the talented Zimbabwe opening batsman admits he surprised even himself after realising the amount of excess kilogrammes he had shed over the last two months.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Often criticised for carrying too much weight during his international cricket career, the Mutare-born batsman recently embarked on a gruelling fitness regime as he seeks a return to the Test side after a lengthy absence from the national team due to injury problems.
“I won’t say how many kilos I lost, but I would just say I’ve lost a lot,” a visibly leaner Mawoyo said with a chuckle in an interview with The Sports Hub when asked how many kgs he had shed.
“I surprised myself, to be honest, when I realised how much weight I had lost and in what period. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot in terms of lifestyle and discipline, it’s not easy to stick to a schedule of four sessions in a day and making sure that you’re eating at the right time and eating the right food constantly. Sometimes it was very tough, especially when I was starting, I would feel like I didn’t want to do it anymore, but that discipline helped me to be where I am today,” he said.
Mawoyo credits former Zimbabwe cricket team batsman and Rising Stars Academy coach Stuart Matsikenyeri, who he said took him under his wing after he told him of his desire to regain his fitness.
“I wanted to get fitter, lose a bit of weight and keep my strength,” he explained. “I’d found it a bit difficult in the past few years, especially after coming back from a couple of surgeries on my knee, so sometimes I struggled here and there with those injuries and during the last domestic season I did have a bit of a problem with the knee.
“The more weight that I gained, the more strain I put on the groin and on the knee, so we had some time off and I just decided that I felt I was strong enough to start doing some consistent training,” Mawoyo said.
Mawoyo is widely acknowledged as one of Zimbabwe’s most technically gifted players although his career has been hampered by a combination of injuries and the country’s infrequent Test schedule.
Seven years ago in just his second Test, he scored his maiden Test century, a glorious undefeated innings of 163 in a losing cause to Pakistan at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
In so doing, he became only the third Zimbabwean after Mark Burmester and Grant Flower to carry his bat throughout a Test innings.
His reputation as a Test specialist has seen Mawoyo play only 11 Tests since making his debut against Bangladesh in August, 2011 due to Zimbabwe’s sporadic opportunities in the longer version of the game.
Mawoyo’s recent return to full fitness might have come a bit late for him to be considered for selection in the squad for the upcoming two-match Test series in Bangladesh next month, but the top order batsman is taking it one step at a time.
“My main goal is to obviously be in the best possible shape that I can be and make sure that fitness is maintained. I’m looking forward to the domestic season when it starts and just to continue to contribute positively to the team, which is Mountaineers of course. We’ve got a lot of youngsters coming through especially in the batting department and also to playing a leading role in the team not just as captain, but also as a batsman and rub off some good stuff on to the youngsters,” Mawoyo said.
His ultimate goal is to not only bounce back into the Test side for the first time since the match against Sri Lanka in November, 2016, but also make a significant contribution.
“The bigger picture is to get back into the national team and open the batting and not just get back in, but make sure that when I get back I make a difference especially at the top of the order. I’ve been out for about 18 months now,” Mawoyo said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, working on the fitness side, but also lots of balls to be hit and a few technical issues that I would like to address. but that’s all work in progress because the bigger picture is to get back into the Test team and open the batting and make some good contributions.”
In addition to working on his fitness, Mawoyo has been making the most of his time away from the national team as he continues to establish himself as one of the country’s leading cricket commentators.
“Commentary has always been a passion of mine. I’ve always been one with the gift of the gab from school [and I] did public speaking, drama — talking is something that comes naturally to me and obviously having played the game — that’s helps too,” said Mawoyo, who is also a qualified umpire and holder of a level two coaching qualification with Cricket Australia (CA).
His biggest passion is, however, development. Last year he embarked on a grassroots programme to give back to his hometown of Mutare through his Tino Mawoyo Junior Development Cricket Festival.
“If you look at the demographics, the majority of our cricketers that are coming out, especially at school level, are guys coming out from the under-privileged areas of our society,” Mawoyo explains.
“I really feel they need our support. there’s so much talent out there and unless we go into those areas and give them an opportunity to showcase the skills and talent they’ve got, they won’t be seen. We held the inaugural edition of the cricket festival last year and we’ve grown bigger this year,” says Mawoyo.