The Sunday Mail
HAMILTON MASAKADZA never fancied himself as a T20 player and the 34-year-old batsman was also starting to believe that national team captaincy was never meant for him.
But, Mudhara Hammy, as his team mates like to call him, is not only by far Zimbabwe’s most valuable T20 player, he is also the new skipper.
The burly batter will lead Zimbabwe against Pakistan today at Harare Sports Club in the first match of a T20 tri-series that also features Australia.
“It is obviously a huge honour and privilege,” Masakadza told The Sunday Mail Sports yesterday.
“You aspire to play for your country and once you do that, the next thing is you aspire to lead it, especially when you have been around for as long as I have been.
“The captaincy is one thing to have eluded me for long so the importance of it has not diminished at all, if anything it has actually grown.”
From the 17-year-old who scored a century on test debut in 2001, Masakadza has over the years managed to transform himself into Zimbabwe’s best T20 player.
He has the most T20I runs for Zimbabwe, with his 1460 runs coming at a strike rate of 118.41.
Masakadza owns the country’s top three T20 scores with two 79s and a highest 93.
He has the most matches too (52) and is currently the world’s 10th best T20 batsman.
“I can attribute the success to God’s grace upon my life,” he said.
“Obviously some hard work and the influence of the different coaches I’ve had the privilege of working with throughout my career are also part of the equation.
“It’s been a good road for me in T20 so far. With my style of play, when T20 first came along I thought I would never be able to play it but I’ve really surprised myself.
“But then again apart from the numbers, the most important thing is what I can do for the team in the upcoming tri-series and beyond.”
The weeks leading to this series have been marked by controversy over the non-involvement of some of Zimbabwe’s senior players, including former captains Brendan Taylor and Graeme Cremer and the trio of Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine.
But Masakadza revealed that there is positive vibe in the Chevrons camp and hailed new coach Lalchand Rajput for his ‘positivity’, which has rubbed on to the squad.
“He has encouraged the guys a lot and pushed all of us to put the hard yards in,” said the skipper about Rajput.
“He has really emphasised on the importance of hard work and training at match intensity. He is also a very positive individual, very big on getting guys to play to their full potential.
“The guys are really upbeat and looking forward to playing some international cricket again. There is definitely a buzz around the guys and they are really focused on the task at hand and looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, the fact that no Zimbabwean batsman has ever celebrated an international T20 ton is not lost to Masakadza heading into the tri-series.
“As batsmen we all aspire to score hundreds, so if that was to come it would be really special. However what’s more important is what kind of contribution you can put together for the team on the day and whether that puts the team in a winning position or not,” said Masakadza.