BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
CONSIDERING that he has not featured for the Zimbabwe national cricket team since October 2018, it came as a surprise when top order batsman Chamu Chibhabha was appointed the interim Zimbabwe captain in the shorter formats of the game last week.
At 33, many people thought that Chibhabha’s best days were behind him and his international cricket career was all but over.
However, after a fairly solid start to the season in the Logan Cup as Eagles skipper, Chibhabha has fought his way back into the team after being elevated along with Sean Williams who is the new Zimbabwe Test captain, as replacements for the retired Hamilton Masakadza.
For Chibhabha it’s not only a proud moment for him, but also his family after his sister Julia captained the Zimbabwe women’s national cricket team for several years during her career.
“It’s a huge honour and a privilege. I am really excited about it and I am looking to my first game as captain,” Chibhabha told Standardsport.
“I think every cricketer after playing for the country for so long it’s something that you want to tick on your bucket list and for me it came a bit late in my career, which makes it a bit more special.”
It’s not always that siblings get an opportunity to lead their countries in sport, but Chamu and his sister Julia have achieved that.
“When I heard the news I called my dad and went on to the family WhatsApp group and I told everyone. Julia as well as my mom called me to congratulate me. So it’s a proud moment for the family,” he said.
Chibhabha last featured for Zimbabwe in a T20 international tie against South Africa in October 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, while his last ODI appearance came when Zimbabwe hosted Pakistan for five ODIs three months earlier.
In the longer format of the game, Chibhabha has not featured for Zimbabwe since the tour to South Africa in December 2017.
However, the top order batsman, who has played 103 ODIs for Zimbabwe, is eager to transform the way the team plays during his time as captain.
“Right now, it’s just about trying to bring the team together. I believe in unity and I think if we play together as a team, we can achieve bigger things,” he said.
“If you look at the way limited-overs cricket has evolved and average scores are like 290-300 runs, I think we need to change the brand of cricket we have been playing over the years.
“I feel like we have been playing the same way for a long time. I want the guys to be free to express themselves and I am prepared to try that new mindset until we get it right.
“If you look at the way things are now, you need to win games to qualify for the World Cup and there is no automatic qualification anymore. We need a brand of cricket that is going to win us games and qualify for World Cups.”
The new ODI captain has a lot of confidence in the quality of talent that the country has but expressed concern over the mentality which has seen the team capitulate at crucial moments too many times.
“I think we have everything, but we need to work on the mental side of the game. We need more self-belief as individuals and as a team. Once we have that, I believe we can achieve a lot,” he said.
The Zimbabwe team is currently in camp preparing for the Test series against Sri Lanka which begins next week.