“A ‘find’ with an all-rounder’s qualities, a player with tremendous confidence and a fearless approach to cricket,’’ thus went the compliments and they could only have been heaped on one man.
Tinotenda Mutombodzi exhibited some exhilarating cricket for the Zimbabwe A team in their recent triangular series against South African and Sri Lankan touring sides that saw many spectators run out of superlatives to describe his performance.
The lanky all-rounder showed great potential, an uncanny ability to construct partnerships and contain pressure. Also called Confidence, Tino, as he is affectionately known, propelled Zimbabwe to 199 in the final of the triangular series after the hosts had collapsed.
He finished with five wickets making him the second highest wicket taker for the team.
“It was an opportunity and it came out well and I enjoyed it. I always back myself no matter who the opponent is because if you are overcome by fear you will do nothing,’’ he said of his blinding performance.
The Mashonaland Eagles player is also in the national team squad preparing for the T20 World Cup to be played in Sri Lanka and he “would love to go” to the tournament.
“Its up to the selectors but of course given the chance I would love to go because I have always wanted to play for my national team.’’
Like many other cricketers it all started in the backyard for Mutombodzi where he played with elder brother Holdon.
Then Tino bowled pace. So how did he become a leg spinner?
“I started bowling spin when I was in grade five. We were at practice, so as the batsmen were changing I just bowled spin, although our coach, Isaiah Makiyi, did not allow that but after the ball turned sharply , he gave me another chance and from then I was a leg spinner.’’
The former Chengu Primary pupil then made it in the Zimbabwe U13 team. He marched from the U13s to all the other age group teams, the Zimbabwe A side but now he seems destined to finally end up in the senior national team.
He was part of the Zimbabwe U19 World Cup squad that took part in the 2008 tournament. What is his word for the under 19s that will take part in the forthcoming
World Cup to be played in Australia?
“I just wish them the best, if they do better than us it will be great for the nation.’’
Tino has sweated to get this far.
“My career may look smooth or easy but in the background I have put a lot of work to achieve this. I have worked hard, spending a lot of time in the nets.’’
He admits problems with the short ball. So has he succumbed?
“Short balls have been a problem that for now I just leave them, but I am working on my pull shot, its coming out well.’’
The former Churchill Boys high captain’s favourite player is the man who has re-written South African cricket record books, none other than Hashim Amla, but locally he admires hamilton Masakadza.
“I like Hashim Amla, but Hamilton Masakadza inspires me and he is my favourite local player.’’
Mutombodzi comes from a Christian family. He is the third born in a family of four (three boys and one girl). Who knows, another Mutombodzi could soon make headlines, because Forbes (17), Tino’s other brother, plays for Mash Eagles U18.
As a Christian, Tino says a short prayer before he goes to the field.
“God then me, God goes before me my prayer before I go into the field. God gave me this talent and he will take me far, my father tells that all this success is the grace of God.’’
What is it that we don’t know about him?
“Music is my second love, when I am not playing cricket — its music. I play piano a bit and I like gospel, country and jazz music too.’’
Just like his local favourite player, Tino would like to complete his education, and certainly at a university that plays cricket.
“I would like to do like what Hammy(Masakadza) did, and attain a degree in Accounting and Management of Business at a University be it in Australia, South Africa or England. I have applied to a number of universities, so there is a chance of going to school next year — but the institute should have cricket.’’
But his country remains dear to his heart.
“I would love to lead my country in Test cricket and also play in the IPL plus to be the best all rounder.’’
Mutombodzi would not part without passing some tips to upcoming cricketers.