The Sunday Mail
Shortly before the toss this morning, at least one of the five debutants named in the Zimbabwe Test squad for the two-match series will be handed his baggy green caps at Harare Sports Club.
Inasfar as cricket moments go, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
For Kevin Kasuza, Charlton Tshuma, Ainsley Ndlovu, Brian Mudzinganyama and Victor “Jojo” Nyauchi, it’s been a long and winding road to this moment.
In Kasuza’s case, this is a fulfilment of the promise he made to his late father.
As for Tshuma, this is a comeback tale as he had settled into the life of a mechanic.
Ndlovu hopes to get his name in the history books again, having taken a wicket with his first international ball during his ODI debut last year.
Mudzinganyama and Nyauchi are a pair of superstitious fellows.
Nyauchi believes that his two kids are his lucky charm. While expecting his first child in 2015, he was handed his first taste of international cricket with the President’s XI.
An addition to the Nyauchi clan is on the way.
As for Nyauchi, this is a dream come true.
The guy got the last call into the squad when he was busy with his side hustle.
Nyauchi owns and manages a car wash business in Mufakose.
“The last time I had a baby was also the first time I got selected to play for the President’s XI that played a warm-up match against Afghanistan in 2016.
“Now I have a baby on the way and I have just been called into the national team,” he said.
The Mountaineers bowler has picked up 104 wickets in 35 First Class matches and has been a regular fixture for the Zimbabwe A side.
“It’s a good feeling to be here. I’ve been doing well for some time and believe that I have a good foundation to do well,” he said
Nyauchi is a people person who ploughs back into his Mufakose community.
“I want to make the nation proud,” said the 27-year-old Mountaineers’ seamer.
“I grew up with no parents, it was not easy for me to get here, but that only makes me stronger.
On the other hand, Mudzinganyama believes that the bat he received from former Chevrons skipper Hamilton Masakadza played a part in his current form and selection.
Masakadza, who recently called time on his career, is now director of cricket at ZC.
Mudzinganyama scored a 50 on his First Class debut. A few innings later, he got a ton. At that time, he was using the bat he got from Masakadza.
Should the 24-year-old play against Sri Lanka today, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure which bat he will use.
“It still feels like a dream,” said Mudzinganyama on his Test call-up.
“I learnt that when you have a plan, write the vision down. Even if you don’t attain every target, you will get close to your targets.
“I wrote that I wanted to be in the squad for the Sri Lanka Test and here I am.”
Speaking on his bat, he said: “Our director of cricket, Hamilton Masakadza, gave me a bat two weeks before the start of the season.
“I remember telling him that ‘one day I will mention your name at a press conference,’ He smiled when I said that.”
“He came when I was doing extra practice and gave me the bat.
‘I was overwhelmed and told him that the bat would take me to the national side.
“That came true,” said Mudzinganyama.
For Kasuza, it’s all about the family, especially his late father Gideon.
“My mom, Loveness, isn’t feeling well. She has high blood pressure.
“I will be playing for her,” he said.
“Every day she calls me, motivating me to keep working hard.
“My wife Faith is also very supportive. We have a baby, Keara (4). I always want to do well for them.”
Kasuza is pretty chuffed about making the grade as it was one of the promises he made to his late father.
“My late father was my number one supporter. He died in July 2016,” said the 26-year-old.
“Before my dad passed away, he said he wouldn’t be able to rest well if I quit cricket without getting the chance to play for Zimbabwe.
“I have fulfilled his wish,” he said.
Having put in the hours and done the work, Kasuza is one of the favourites to get the nod.
The Mountaineers batsman lost 15 kilogrammes in a bid to get in shape. For three months, he was playing club cricket in South Africa.
That was before the start of the Logan Cup.
Now three matches later, averages 50, hence the call-up.
“For about seven or eight seasons now, I have been knocking on the doors. I think it’s my time now,” said Kasuza.
“My fitness was a problem, I was weighing 91kg.
“At the end of last season I decided to change my approach as I wanted to play for my country. I worked hard on my fitness,” he said.
Kasuza is delighted to be sharing the changing room with his best buddy, Nyauchi.
“It’s a blessing to be here with him.
“We used to have our personal battles during our school days when we played for Eagles.
“We used to call and urge each other to keep the dream of playing for the country intact. Now we are here,” he said.
Tshuma’s phone has been busy with congratulatory messages all week.
The 26-year-old is grateful to be in this position, especially considering that he almost lost it all due to a back injury.
He is currently the most economical bowler in the Logan Cup (amongst bowlers with at least three matches), and he has picked up 13 wickets.
“I had a lower back injury during the 2017/18 season and it was the hardest time of my career,” said Tshuma, who almost walked away from the game.
“I sat out the whole year. It was tough watching the others playing. I almost quit.
“What really mattered the most was getting back. I had a meeting with Nick Singo, who was the Tuskers chairman. He got me to work with the kids. Doing so got me back, I started learning from the kids.
“I am grateful to coach Mbekezeli Mabuza , Brian Chari and Njabulo Ncube for their support as well,” he said.
During his time away from the sport, Tshuma became a mechanic.
“At that time, I had to look for something to do. I started working with my father, Kebron, at his garage.
“I learnt a lot of skills there,” he said.
His Bulawayo teammate, Ndlovu (24), would love another grand entrance onto international cricket.
“I remember my first ball in ODIs, which was a short ball. It got me a wicket.
“I’m hoping to get a proper wicket this time around if I play,” he said with a chuckle.
“To be honest, I came to the camp not expecting anything other than to just learn as much as I can from the other guys.
“Now I’m really happy and I am looking forward to the challenge.
“I am doing this for my family.They pushed me during those lazy mornings when I felt like doing nothing.
“They were the voice that reminded me of my goals. They are the very people who pushed me and continue to do so today,” said the Tuskers captain who has picked up nine wickets in two Logan Cup matches this season.