BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
BLESSING Muzarabani has expressed his delight at the way his county cricket career has started out and thanked his senior teammates at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club — in particular West Indies captain Jason Holder — for helping him settling down in English first-class cricket.
The 22-year-old former Zimbabwe national cricket team pace ace quit international duty last year to pursue opportunities in England, where he signed a three-year contract with Northamptonshire.
Now just over two months since marking his English county cricket debut by claiming two wickets against Durham MCCU, Muzarabani has revealed how Holder’s inspirational guidance and advice from other senior players at the club has helped him become a player.
“My initial experience in English county cricket has been really good, I have been learning from some of the best players around,” Muzarabani told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview last week.
“I think I’ve learnt so much and I am definitely a better player than I was before I came here. At the moment we are still halfway through the season and right now I’m not playing due to injury, but I’d say I have made some good strides and I know quite a number things about my game and the game in general that I didn’t know before when I was playing in Zimbabwe,” he said.
One specific player who has made a positive impact on Muzarabani is the West Indies skipper, Holder, who is currently the number one, ranked all-rounder in Test cricket.
“It’s been good to be around top players like West Indies captain Jason Holder, Temba Bavuma from South Africa as well as some of the senior guys in the team.
They’re always helping me, sharing their vast knowledge of the game with me, so it’s been really great. Jason Holder in particular has really taken me under his wing and I make sure to learn as much as I can from him and I believe this can only help me to continue improving my game and becoming better,” Muzarabani added.
Last month, Holder, who is captain West Indies in the ongoing World Cup which got underway on Thursday, singled out Muzarabani for special praise after the pair masterminded the Steelbacks’ first win of the season in the Royal London One-Day Cup against Warwickshire.
Holder, who starred with both bat and ball in the match, was impressed with Muzarabani’s bowling display after the Zimbabwean claimed three for 28 from his 8.4 overs in the Royal London One-Day Cup clash.
“The pitch had good carry and bounce and we exploited that really well. Blessing was outstanding with the new ball, he set the tone and everyone followed on nicely,” Holder said then.
The two-metre tall Muzarabani was part of the 2017 intake of legendary former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu’s now-defunct England-based Rising Stars Academy, which aimed to develope Zimbabwe’s player pool.
He made his international debut in the four-day Test against South Africa in December last year and quickly made a good impression, taking 18 wickets at 40.72 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and nine at 24.44 in Twenty20 Internationals.
However, with uncertainty surrounding the financial situation at Zimbabwe Cricket at the time, Muzarabani decided to take his career in a different direction after signing a Kolpak deal in county cricket — although he could still reverse his decision further down the line.
Muzarabani said his goal was to continue improving as a cricketer during his time at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and ruled out an immediate return to international cricket with Zimbabwe.
“My goal at the moment is just to be the best I can be, that’s my one and only ultimate goal and that’s what I’m focused on right now. Of course, it’s not easy, there are going to be ups and downs, but I will continue to work hard. I want to use this opportunity to grow and I’m not looking too far ahead, I’m currently contracted to Northamptonshire and I’m looking forward to continuing to play county cricket,” he said.
“As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, all I can say is I love my country and I really enjoyed being around my colleagues and representing my country, but my focus is on getting better and becoming the best I can be.”