The Sunday Mail
Tawanda Mupariwa is the quickest Zimbabwean bowler to reach 50 ODI wickets. For this and other successes, Mupariwa credits a number of people that includes former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak, former internationals Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Mluleki Nkala, Tatenda Taibu, Chamu Chibhabha and coaches Dave Houghton, Steve Mangongo, Phil Simmons . . .
Well, the 35-year-old Australia-based bowler last played for Zimbabwe in 2016 and he says he isn’t done yet. He still has a lot to offer including giving back to Zimbabwe cricket’s development. Mupariwa, who has shared the changing room with England’s fast bowler Jofra Archer, Australia internationals Dan Christian and D’Arcy Short at Newton Cricket Club, says he is as fit as ever and is available for Zimbabwe selection, if the need arises.
Having had batting sessions with Australia opening batsman David Warner, a lot has been happening to “Budz” . . . read on.
BZ: So how many years in Aussie now, three?
TM: It will be four years in September this year.
BZ: Moving Down Under, would you regard it as of one of the best decisions you made? The other one obviously being choosing to be a cricketer?
TM: Yeah, it was one of the best decisions I have made. I am grateful for cricket and the opportunities it has given me and my family. It was a tough decision as I love my country and love representing it. I think the timing was right. All glory to God because without Him, none of this would have been possible.
BZ: You still with Newton Cricket Club?
TM: Yes, still with the Bucks.
BZ: Still batting three?
TM: We have a very young and inexperienced side and as of last season I batted from three to six depending on what the team needed and the balance.
BZ: What do you think will be the reaction when your childhood mates hear that Tawanda is a top-order batsman now?
TM: I think they know there was always potential there. I batted top order all through high school and even at provincial age group level.
BZ: Who are some of the big names you have played against in your league?
TM: I have always loved a challenge and batting top order here has given me that. I have faced some fast bowling and I mean fast.
Tim Paine, George Bailey, James Faulkner, Riley Meridith, Ben Hilfenhaus, D’Arcy Short, Dan Christian, Alex Doolan. D’Arcy Short, Dan Christian, Jofra Archer have played for my team when they were here for the Big Bash.
BZ: Mate . . . that’s some names, must be fun. Well, you played international cricket for 12 years, not a big issue for you.
TM: Yeah, you know I thrive when there is a challenge in front of me. I think the higher I played the better I played. I think I am just competitive. There is something to look at which you pointed out.
Twelve years of international cricket?
BZ: Debut 2004 and latest ODI 2016. It brings me to your entrance into international cricket back then. How was it for you, did you feel ready?
TM: I don’t think I was ready but when the opportunity came I was ready for the challenge and to give it my all. I was lucky because I had just come from a successful first-class season and been part of a team that had Mluleki Nkala who took me under his wing and mentored me, Heath Streak and Mpumelelo Mbangwa.
BZ: And then you went on to be a history maker. Quickest to 50 ODI wickets achieved in your 28th match against Sri Lanka in 2008. How is that?
TM: I will be honest with you – I didn’t know until one of the TV guys mentioned it to me. All I can say is, glory to God for giving me the opportunity to showcase the talent he has given me. I think I put that achievement to hard work, focus, resilience. Every time I got the opportunity to represent my country, I played as if it was my last, I wasn’t always the first choice bowler regardless of how well I performed and I knew that. That mindset and the environment helped me achieve that.
BZ: You played in two World Cups as well. When you look back do you feel satisfied about your international career?
TM: It would be ungrateful to say no. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to represent my country. There is always something at the back of your mind saying I wish I had done more or played more but I gave it my all on every opportunity I got. I would have loved to play more red ball cricket for my country. (Mupariwa has one Test cap). I went to two T20 World Cups, played in the game we beat Australia in Cape Town.
BZ: Your T20I debut. How amazing was that?
TM: Yeah, absolutely loved it!
BZ: I understand you have also taken the coaching route?
TM: Yeah, I have. For me it is a way of giving back to this great sport that has done so much for me. (I am) doing a bit with New Town, Cricket Tasmania in their Hurricanes junior programmes as a specialist bowling coach.
BZ: Has your family loved being in Australia?
TM: They love it but home is always home. We all love Zimbabwe.
BZ: How many kids now and what are their names?
TM: Two. Melchizedek and Hope.
BZ: Are they showing any interest in sport?
TM: My boy loves sport. Playing a bit of cricket, rugby and soccer. My daughter is only 18 months old.
BZ: I understand Tafara Mpariwa is also that side? How is he doing?
TM: Yes, he is. Doing great thanks. It’s been a great experience for him, he’s played with some of the greatest players. Faced one of the fastest bowlers in Australia. It’s all about exposure and experience for him.
BZ: Who are some of the old Zimbabwe mates you still in touch with?
TM: Quite a few. Chamu (Chibhabha), Syke (Nkala), Choki (Panyangara), (John)Nyumbu, (Keith) Dabengwa, Solz Mire, (Tatenda) Taibu, (Sean) Williams, Slug (Craig Ervine) can’t name all of them, but all I can say is I played with a great bunch of guys and I got along with pretty everyone.
BZ: What do you miss most about your days playing in Zimbabwe?
TM: Being around the boys, the training and going on the park with my mates and representing my country.
BZ: How have you been spending time during lockdown restrictions?
TM: You know I love looking after my body. I have an indoor set-up at home, I have one lane and a bit of gym equipment.
BZ: I see you still a fitness fanatic, some things won’t change hey …
TM: Body is a temple. I still have plenty of hard overs in me.
BZ: If they were things that you could change in your international career what could that be?
TM: That’s a tough question. I honestly can say I gave it a good go. I am grateful for the opportunities I got. I haven’t retired yet you know that right? (laughs). I think I know my game better than ever now and if there is an opportunity to play white ball cricket I would strongly think about it.
BZ: So Budz is still available for international cricket?
TM: Mate, I have a good deal here, but if my services were required I would definitely give it some thought. I am getting as much exposure as I can in the coaching side of things because I want to, one day, come home and give back to the game and to my country. For now I am looking to learn as much as I can from the best coaches around.
BZ: Tell me about the name Budz? Where did it come from?
TN: I think Choki and Elty gave it to me because there is a guy called Budz Mukadam who was involved with Matabeleland Cricket at the time. Whenever he saw me he would say hey Tawanda with a T and guys just thought he loved me and started calling me by his name. Great guy Budz.
BZ: We could talk and talk. I appreciate your time.
Anything you feel you want to add onto this chat?
TM: Thank you for inviting me for a chat on your one-on-one. I just want to thank everyone who has made a difference in my life, team mates, friends Chamu, Syke, Gavin Ewing, Taibu and more. Role models Dougie Hondo, Streak, Pommie; coaches Walter Chawaguta, Phil Simmons, Dave Houghton, Wayne James, Steve Mangongo, Nick Singo, Mr Sullivan and all the development coaches at the time in Bulawayo.
(I am grateful to) Zimbabwe Cricket for everything they have done for me, I am forever grateful for the opportunities they gave me.
Friends you can add Solz, Willo, Slug and lastly my family for all their support, they were always there because I had a lot of ups and downs. Together we can make Zimbabwe cricket great again or should I say let’s make Zimbabwe cricket great again.