BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Covid-19 pandemic might have dashed Chamu Chibhabha’s hopes of leading the Chevrons in limited-overs cricket this year, but instead of just focusing on himself and his own frustrations, the selfless interim Zimbabwe captain has been tireless in his endeavours to provide food for the vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis.
Barely three months after donating to an orphanage in Harare’s high-density surburb of Mufakose, the 33-year-old top order batsman last week retraced his roots to give back in Highfield where his cricketing dream was birthed.
Chibhabha, who did his primary education at Chipembere Primary School, which is located a stone’s throw away from Takashinga, remembered the head groundsman at the Highfield-based cricket club, 82-year-old Maraini Tichivangana, by donating an assortment of goods.
Affectionately known as Chirandu in local cricket circles, Tichivangana has worked at the renowned cricket club from the time construction began at the facility almost 22 years ago and watched the development of Chibhabha and scores of other Zimbabwe cricketers.
“I’ve pretty much known him all my cricketing life. I always come here a couple of times, we always catch up and he is like a father figure to a lot of us here so I just thought it was important for us to appreciate him,” said Chibhabha.
“People like Chirandu have done a lot, but they are not always appreciated as much and personally I feel he made my life easier as a cricketer.
“Everyone just focuses on the players on the field and the guys in the offices, but I feel these guys are overlooked. They are just as important, I personally feel he has played a big part, 22 years is a lot, and he’s been a loyal servant to the club who needs to be celebrated.
“I’m just happy I could get together with a couple of players and just come and appreciate him.”
Covid-19 has brought about tragedy, hardship and struggles to different communities around the country and Chibhabha is among a few local cricketers, who have done their bit for charity during the crisis.
Others have given foodstuffs, clothing and raised awareness to help those who need it, but Chibhabha is leading the way.
He said the long break from the game due to the Covid-19 pandemic had given him time to reflect and come up with initiatives to give back to society.
“To be honest, giving back is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I guess I’ve been able to do that now because I’ve got a lot of time to reflect, think about my life and people that have played a part for me to get where I am,” Chibhabha said.
“So, this is part of my programme that I’ve started to give back to the community and I just feel it’s important. I would just like to encourage more guys to start doing this.”
The gifted opening batsman also lamented the negative effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on local cricketers, who were anticipating a busy international season this year before Covid-19
“It’s been a bit frustrating not just for me alone, but a lot of us. “It’s another year taken away from our careers and we can only hope that things get back to normal soon and we can get back to playing cricket soon,” he said.
“We’ve tried to get together as a team, we started training for a couple of weeks, but as you know the cases kept going up each and every day so we had to call off the practice, so as it stands we are not sure when we are going to start practising again let alone play any cricket.”
The pandemic also came at the wrong time for Chibhabha, who had just been appointed Zimbabwe’s interim captain in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20s.
Chibhabha only captained Zimbabwe in one ODI encounter during the tour of Bangladesh before missing the rest of the series due to injury. Subsequent scheduled international assignments against Ireland, India, Australia and Afghanistan have since been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Chibhabha remains upbeat.
“I always laugh about it at home that because of the Covid 19 pandemic I might end up captaining Zimbabwe for just one game but such is life, but the most important thing at the moment is to make sure we look after ourselves and make sure we are healthy and hope for the best,” he said with a chuckle.