The Sunday Mail
PRODUCING the best bowling figures in an innings in Test cricket for the year 2020 wasn’t his only best story.
Sikanda Raza was also a Caribbean Premier League Champion in his maiden appearance.
He won the title with the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in September.
“It has been a good year, even with no cricket anywhere in the world, but (it has been) great that the little I did play, I managed to achieve something,” said Raza, whose seven for 113 were the best figures in Test matches played across all teams last year.
Away from cricket, Raza touched hearts with his philanthropic works.
There are untold stories of his visits to friends to help them out with groceries.
One of the friends was Alvin “Aluvha” Zhakata.
“Like almost everyone, I started knowing Raza as a cricket player. We would coin praise songs of him at the Castle Corner as he was a fan favourite.
“When I embarked on the Cape to Cairo trip, I was humbled to learn that he was one person who was keenly following my progress, and when I returned home, he gave me an autographed Zimbabwe cricket shirt and took me out for breakfast. I was overwhelmed,” said Zhakata, who was recently hospitalised after being attacked by robbers in Chitungwiza.
“Since then, we became closer; I got to know him better.
“I learnt he is keen to communicate more in Shona than in English. I also learned that he is a humble and caring guy.
“During the first lockdown, he would visit me with groceries, and when I got admitted in the hospital, he would make frantic efforts to call me and although I couldn’t speak, sometimes he would just make a video call to see me.”
Raza also donated to some orphanages.
At one time, he tried his hand at music by doing a collaboration with Zimdancehall artiste Enzo Ishall in his track “Muchiround”.
However, Raza’s seven for 113 is Zimbabwe’s second-best haul after Paul Strang’s eight for 109 against New Zealand in Bulawayo in 2000.
Interestingly though, he was once a seam bowler.
“I was struggling to manage the workload as a seamer and an opener, so I had to make this decision of becoming just a batter, and later I started bowling off-spin. I have just been lucky with all these bowling performances.”
Sometimes the key to success is relationships.
Raza’s relationship with West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo helped him get a CPL gig.
“DJ and I have had short but good chats a couple of times before. We have met at the Global T20, Bangladesh Premier League, and T10,” said Raza.
At TKR, he also shared the changing room with West Indian spinner Sunil Narine.
His new bowling action now has Narine written all over.
“It is difficult to put feelings in words, as the community, and local friends, families and fans have helped a lot in staying positive and dreaming big in order to achieve big.
“So I can’t be more thankful to them and hopefully I can keep working hard and harder to bring more honour to my country and family, friends and fans.”
Kudakwashe “Gafa” Chirume — a very close buddy of Raza — also shared the cricketer’s story.
“He is a big believer in prayer. He is obsessed with cricket and 90 percent of his day will be talking and thinking cricket, and maybe one percent Liverpool,” said Chirume.
“When it comes to his success, he works the hardest.
“On New Year’s Eve, he was in the nets.
“I also believe his success comes from his good heart; he always says if you do good, good will follow you, and if you do bad, bad will swallow you.
“Every month he takes 10 percent of his earnings to donate to orphanages, saying, ‘no matter how much you donate, it matters’,” Chirume said.
Raza at Rocks
Raza is back at his parent team, Rocks, in the domestic league, where his professional career started.
He was on a purple patch, with outstanding club cricket performances for Alex Sports Club that featured two One Day cricket hundreds.
“(It) feels amazing to be part of Rocks again.
“(My) journey in Zimbabwe started there and would be nice to finish it there, too, and that means hopefully Rocks can be part of domestic cricket for years to come,” Raza said.
Ironically, Raza wanted to be a jet-fighter before growing into a “cricket nuffie”.
After such a remarkable 2020, what is the plan for 2021?
It was in January 2020 when he collected seven Sri Lankan wickets.
This January is different though: There is no cricket and the country is in lockdown.
“This year, hopefully, we can have all the tours as planned and, most importantly, this year we all can work hard to bring Zimbabwe to better rankings in all forms of cricket.”