BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Zimbabwe national cricket team captain Hamilton Masakadza has announced plans to bring his glittering 18-year international career to an end at the upcoming Bangladesh T20I tries later this month.
The tri-series that begins on September 13 involves hosts Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Masakadza yesterday told a Press briefing in Harare that the country’s suspension from the T20 World Cup qualifiers set for Dubai next month precipitated his decision to call it quits.
Masakadza made his Test debut in July 2001 as a 17-year-old against West Indies and went on to score 119 runs to become the youngest century scorer on debut.
Since then, Masakadza has played 38 Tests, scoring 2 223 runs in the process while he also featured in 209 one-day internationals (ODIs), delivering 5 658 runs since he made his debut in September 2001.
The Zimbabwe captain also represented the country in 62 T20s in which he registered 1 529 runs ahead of his swansong in Bangladesh.
In Tests, he scored five centuries and five half-tones while in ODIs he had the same number of centuries, but managed more half centuries with 34.
“I was looking forward to the ICC T20 World Cup qualifiers in Dubai next month, but with Zimbabwe barred from taking part in the event, I feel the time is right for the focus to shift to the next generation,” Masakadza said during a Press briefing.
“We have fantastic talent coming through and with Zimbabwe’s focus on the 2023 ICC World Cup, I believe it is time for the young players to rise to the challenge of taking us to the global showpiece.”
Masakadza’s career began in Highfields, Harare, where he played for Takashinga Cricket Club, and is a product of the Zimbabwe Cricket’s talent identification project in high-density areas.
Along with players such as Tatenda Taibu, Elton Chigumbura and Stewart Matsikenyeri, among others, Masakadza went on to excel in national team colours.
“I still can’t believe that it has been 18 years since I played my first international match for Zimbabwe, scoring 119 against West Indies in Harare, in the process being the youngest player to make a century on Test debut.
“It have always been about giving everything for the team, playing with dignity and about the spirit of the game. It has not been an easy road. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying.
“That’s what makes it sad for me to leave, but I can do so with pride and with a big smile on my face, knowing that I have given everything to the game,” he said.
The 36-year-old right hander comes from a cricket family, where his two young brothers Shingi and Wellington have also represented the country on the international stage.
“I know what I am going to miss, the most is being part of the changing room, the joy of bowling together and striving to achieve a goal. I learnt a lot from my teammates, and I leave the game with wonderful memories and strong relationships,” he said
His last Test was against Bangladesh in a match that was played last year.
Despite such a long career, Masakadza only went to one World Cup after he was picked for the 2015 edition.