BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
LETTING go after a 19-year international cricket career was always going to be difficult for former Zimbabwe national cricket team captain Hamilton Masakadza.
The 37-year-old retired from the game last September following a career in which he represented the nation more than 300 times in 68 Tests, 209 ODIs and 66 T20Is.
And just a month after deciding to hang his bat and pads in September 2019, he was appointed the director of cricket by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), joining a growing number of top international cricketers such as Andrew Strauss and Graeme Smith who have taken up administrative roles in the game soon after their retirement.
Although Masakadza misses padding up for the either his domestic side Mountaineers or the Chevrons, he has quickly settled into his new role despite a difficult first year in which the game was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Making the transition from being a player to being an administrator has been challenging, but I’ve learnt quite a lot. I now realise exactly what it takes for the game to be run,” Masakadza told Standardsport in an interview.
Masakadza’s new role involves defining policy, strategy and programmes of best practice through all Zimbabwe’s teams.
He is also incharge of the recruitment, management and interaction of senior cricket technical staff while also ensuring that coaches and captains are providing effective leadership to the national teams.
The new roles, Masakadza said, have given him a better appreciation of the role played by administrators than he did during his playing days.
“As a player you just get out there and expect things to be in place, you expect certain things to have happened for you to be able to play, but now being on the other side it’s been a big learning curve for me to be able to actually see what it takes to get those things happening, to get those games that we need and all the tournaments organised and everything. It’s a challenge that I’ve welcomed because it was always one of my dreams as well to be able to affect things from the other side of the table,” he said.
Masakadza, who is Zimbabwe’s fourth-highest run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs, welcomed the increase in the number of former players making the transition to sports administration locally.
In addition to Masakadza, ZC also appointed former opening batsman Tino Mawoyo as marketing officer, taking over from another former national team player Ed Rainsford.
“It has also been nice having more people from the administration side that have previous playing experience. We’ve had guys like Tino Mawoyo coming in on the marketing side so we are beginning to have more ex-players on the other side of the desk which is also a very big plus and something that will help the local game.
He added: “The guys who were already involved in the administration of the game when I got in have also been very helpful and good and easy to work with. You can see the good work that has been done to organise all the tournaments we had last, year a very good commendation to them. They’ve really turned up and put their best foot forward to ensure things are running well and smoothly.”
After his appointment, Masakadza had his work cut out for him after a string of worryingly dismal results which included a T20I loss to then 22nd-ranked Singapore in a tri-series and finishing at the bottom of the points table in another tri-series, in Dhaka, which included Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Those matches were played while Zimbabwe was suspended by the ICC for government interference in the board.
The country has, however, since been reinstated as a full member, and appears to be on a road to recovery since due to ZC’s improved financial standing and improved performances on the field.