The Sunday Mail
HAMILTON MASAKADZA is two matches away from joining the 200 ODI caps club.
As he talks about his almost two-decades-long journey, the 34-year-old recalls last month’s five-match series against Pakistan in Bulawayo, which he has described as ‘difficult’.
It was his first series as the new Zimbabwe captain and Pakistan spoiled it with a ruthless 5-0 shellacking of their hapless hosts.
“It was a very difficult series for us,” said Masakadza.
“It’s best to try and put it behind us, we’ll take the lessons we learnt from it and the few positives that were there, move on and try focusing on preparing for South Africa.”
Interestingly, his ODI career started against the Proteas 17 years ago in Bulawayo.
Now he is set to reach the 200 ODIs milestone against the same team when Zimbabwe tour South Africa for three ODIs and as many T20s next month.
“I remember how difficult it was facing Pollock, Ntini, Kallis and Klusener.
“It’s a team I’ve always followed very closely even as a small boy so it’ll be really special if I do manage to play my 200th against them.
“It means everything to me to have managed to play as many games as that for my country,” said Masakadza, who will become the 76th international cricketer to earn 200 ODIs.
India’s legend Sachin Tendulkar is the most capped ODI player with 463 caps, while for Zimbabwe, Grant Flower played the most with 221 ODIs.
Grant Flower’s older brother Andy earned 213 caps and Elton Chigumbura completes the list for Zimbabwe with 208 matches.
“You always aim when you are starting to represent the national team and it is quite special for me to have done it this long.
“It takes a long time to put that number of games together when you play for Zimbabwe as we don’t get as many games as other countries,” he said. At 34, how many more innings does he feel he can play for Zimbabwe and has the thought of being the country’s most capped ODI player crossed his mind?
“At the moment I haven’t set specific targets but l am just aiming to keep making as much impact as I can for the team every time I play.
“If the stats come, then they come but for me it’s all about trying to contribute to as many wins for the team as I can,” he said.
Of his 198 caps, 108 have come on home soil while the remainder were attained in foreign land.
His most away matches are 30 in Bangladesh, followed by 10 in South Africa.
He has also played his most matches, 49, against Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan and South Africa who are joint on 22 matches.
Masakadza has captained 14 ODIs for Zimbabwe.
Of the 198 ODIs, Masakadza has also won 54 matches and lost 142 times.
There is a one tie and a no result.
His highest score is 178 not out against Kenya in 2009, he averages 28.43 with the bat and has five hundreds.
With the ball, the 34-year-old medium pacer has picked him 38 wickets.
After all these numbers, he picks Zimbabwe’s first ever series win in Sri Lanka in 2017 as his most cherished moment.
“Beating Sri Lanka in the last match in Lanka when the series was tied 2-all, I remember the nervousness of number 10 and 11 as they were waiting to go in and bat, possibly needing to chase a few to secure the win.
“They didn’t end up getting in and the unbridled joy of seeing the victory and with it the series win is special to me,” said Masakadza, who has only played six World Cup matches in his career.