Zim cricket coach dies

Shepherd Makunura

ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) has described the late national team fielding coach and Southern Rocks head coach Shepherd Tichaendepi Makunura as one of the country’s best coaches and an unsung hero of the sport.

Makunura died yesterday morning at a private hospital in Harare aged 46 following a protracted battle with an undisclosed illness.

He leaves a legacy of being the only coach to win four consecutive Logan Cup titles, three with Mountaineers between 2017 and 19 as well as another one with Masvingo-based side Rocks on their return to the elite league in 2021.

At the time of his death, he was also head coach of Rocks, where he led national team players such as Roy Kaia, Blessing Muzarabani and Sikandar Raza.

“On behalf of Zimbabwe Cricket, our deepest sympathies are with his family, colleagues and friends as they come to terms with losing such an affable and wonderful man,” ZC managing director Givemore Makoni  said.

“We have lost one of our very best coaches, an unsung hero of our game who has been instrumental in the unearthing and nurturing of many of Zimbabwe’s talented players. We are grateful for his immense contribution to the sport in Zimbabwe and beyond and the void that he has left will be hard to fill.

“Sheppy was a much-loved and humble person and his smiling face and positive attitude will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Sinikiwe, his family and friends at this devastatingly sad time.”

In his early coaching days, Makunura had stints with the Zimbabwe Under-14s (2005-2007) and Zimbabwe Under-19s (2008-2010)

He was the Zimbabwe A coach for the incoming tours by Canada and Kenya in 2018, the same year that he also took the Zimbabwe XI side to the Africa Cup tournament in South Africa.

On the domestic front, Makunura made history with Mountaineers by becoming the first Zimbabwean coach to win three consecutive Logan Cup titles between 2017 and 2019 before he went on to claim the coveted silverware again the following season with Rocks.

In 2018, he joined the Zimbabwe senior men’s national team technical set-up as fielding coach, a position that he was to hold until his untimely death.

It was Makunura’s cherished dream to get the chance to join an exclusive list of Zimbabwean black coaches to coach the national team after Stephen Mangongo and Walter Chawaguta.

Born in Harare on October 23, 1976, Makunura started playing cricket in the late 1980s at Chengu Primary School in Highfield, Harare, earning a scholarship that took him to Prince Edward School for his secondary education.

In 1990, while in Form 1, he started his club career as one of the pioneering members of Takashinga.

He made his first-class début for Mashonaland A in the 2001/02 season.

Injury cut short his playing career and he decided to turn to coaching.

Makunura is survived by his wife, Sinikiwe Mpofu, who is the Zimbabwe senior women’s national team assistant coach, and two children.

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