The Sunday Mail
WHEN Hamilton Masakadza scored his historic century on his Test debut at 17, his father Kingston declared that he would give his son to Zimbabwe Cricket for the rest of his life.
That was on July 29, 2001.
Now that Hamilton is retiring from cricket at the age of 36, does the 68-year-old Kingston want his son back? “I can have him back, but if he wants to go into administration, I don’t mind,” said Kingston, before bursting into laughter. “He told me about his retirement plans yesterday (last Tuesday), before announcing it officially. I asked him what had motivated his decision. “He just said, ‘I will tell you the story’. “l will let you know when l get that story.” Kingston feels that his son deserves a big family celebration for his exploits in cricket. “We are going to gather at our farm in Chivhu, slaughter a beast and celebrate his life in cricket.” Kingston is indeed a proud parent, and so is his wife, Ruth.
But Ruth feels that, “Hammy should have played till 40, life begins at 40.”
On Kingston’s car sale office walls, there are several family potraits, including Masakadza’s pictures and newspaper articles capturing his cricket milestones. “Every player has got his time. He must leave the game while people still love him so that he carries a good name,”
“He needs to give the youngsters a chance.”
This publication established that when players are covered in bad light by the Press, their loved ones are equally affected.
During Masakadza’s 18-year-old career, which is set to end in Bangladesh in a fortnight, the media seemed to enjoy ‘hurting’ him. “There was a time when things weren’t going well in cricket. I asked Hamilton to consider going overseas to play cricket,” Kingston said.
“He told me that he wanted to play for his country until his retirement. He has done just that and I am very proud. He is retiring with a good name, I don’t know if it’s good to others, but to me it’s a good name.”
Hamilton’s mother said they will give the outgoing Zimbabwe captain a ‘retirement package’. “I was calculating his age yesterday. l felt that he should have played a bit more, maybe till 40. I think he retired too soon, life begins at 40. “But we still respect his decision and we are proud of him. He deserves a retirement package from us. He played impressively for very long, and he was always a disciplined player,’’ Ruth said, who kept her son’s first cricket blazer safe, only to give it back to him two years ago.
Kingston credits Masakadza’s success to her. “When I told her about Hamilton’s retirement, she changed her WhatsApp profile picture and put that of baby Hamilton,” he said.
Yesterday, the Chevrons left for Bangladesh. Masakadza will use the tour to wave goodbye to international cricket.
Masakadza shed tears when he broke his retirement news to teammates after last Tuesday’s training session at Harare Sports Club.
He almost burst into a cry when making the official announcement of his retirement during a press conference later that same Tuesday. Tears could also be seen Friday night, when Chamu ‘Fearless’ Chibhabha chose to celebrate his 33rd birthday by organising a surprise farewell party for ‘Mudhara Hammy’ at Masakadza’s house in Harare.
Teammates, coaches and even ZC acting managing director Givemore Makoni graced the event which was fun filled as they expressed ‘brotherhood’ with Masakadza being presented with a cake written ‘Retired but not out’. Masakadza’s 18-year-career span was described as ‘illustrious’, ‘inspiring’ amidst many other superlatives. Hamilton could not help it, but produce his famous grin and laughter as speaker after speaker hailed the outgoing Zimbabwe captain. Temperatures were low and a cool-cold breeze engulfed the occasion, but it could not dampen the warm environment created by brotherly love and respect for a cricket legend.
His old mates took the opportunity to make some confessions.
“Mudhara I thought you should know I was amongst those juniors who threw your favorite tooth brush in the urinary,” said Forster Mutizwa. Stuart Matsikenyeri thanked Hammy for his role in helping him win the heart of his wife Oslie while Douglas Hondo revealed that Masakadza was his first international cricket roommate.
The innings had to end short as Chevrons present at the function had to prepare for yesterday’s early flight to Bangladesh, a tour that closes Hammy’s international career door.