For those who haven’t followed Tatenda Taibu’s game closely, he is distinguished for being the first and youngest captain in the chronicles of the sport. He made his first-class debut when he was only 16.
The Zimbabwean played 150 ODIs and 28 Tests for his country before he put down his papers in a shocking turn of events on 10 July 2012 at the prime age of 29. And ever since, he divorced his life from cricket and turned into the service of the Lord.
The incessant political turmoil in Zimbabwe cricket had caused the cricketer with a double-edged sword to give up on a sport that had earned him several accolades in only 11 years. Taibu played from 2001 to 2012, facing and defying several challenges.
In 28 Tests, he managed to stitch 1,546 runs and was Zimbabwe’s fourth-highest run scorer in limited overs cricket, with a brilliant stat of 3,393 runs in 150 matches. In the number of dismissals as a wicketkeeper, he is only behind Andy Flower. Taibu’s dominance in international cricket was monumental but his CV didn’t quite reflect much of it because of the insufficiency of the board in unsettled times.
The life of a cricketer and that of a rat – much similarity?
In 2013, when India toured Zimbabwe, an Indian journalist got the opportunity to interview Taibu, who could be made available for the same only after considerable persuasion. Ever since he put off his gloves in 2012, the former captain no longer spoke to journalists. He didn’t wish to be associated with cricket by any means.
In the interview, Taibu explained how he no longer remained a cricketing idol but only a devotee of God. If there was an idol for him, it was only Jesus Christ and during the tete-a-tete, he wished to talk about nothing but God.
Post his retirement; he lived in a modest home which didn’t even have a television. He had no interest in keeping a tab on what was happening in the world of cricket. He preferred staying disconnected to the materialistic world and spent most of his time in the service of the church.
Taibu distributed his cricketing gear along with other mementos to those wanting to pursue professional cricket. All that was left in his wardrobe were a few pictures with Lara and Tendulkar just so that someday in the future he could tell the world about having known these legendary players personally.
When the interviewer asked Taibu if he missed his glamorous life as a cricketer, the response came in subtle humor.
He asked the interviewer to picture a rat. The rat resides under the sofas and the beds, causing havoc in the house. When at night everyone is asleep, it sneaks out from under the furniture to steal food. If the rat was changed into a human, would it want to go back to being a rat?
The interviewer was by then convinced that spirituality lived in every vein of Taibu.
Three years down the line, his fans are in for a long-awaited piece of good news. Tatenda Taibu has been appointed the new convener for Zimbabwe cricket. The 33-year-old will have additional duties in development and quality performance. Also, he will assist Zimbabwe Cricket in bringing former players back to playing local cricket.
While the game of cricket has seen several oddballs and unpleasant events, there are God-gifted cricketers like Taibu who show that truth and honesty prevail over corruption. Welcome back, master! And we wouldn’t like to compare you to a rat!