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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Hamilton Masakadza is born - former captain who served Zimbabwe cricket for 19 years

Seventeen year old Zimbabwe schoolboy Hamilton Masakadza, playing in his debut Test, kisses the badge on his helmet after reaching his maiden century
Seventeen year old Zimbabwe schoolboy Hamilton Masakadza, playing in his debut Test, kisses the badge on his helmet after reaching his maiden century against the West Indies
©Reuters

August 9, 1983 - Just a month after former captain Hamilton Masakadza decided to hang his boots in September 2019, he was appointed the director of cricket (DoC) for Zimbabwe Cricket.

Masakadza, who debuted at just 17 years of age, had a long-lasting 19-year international career during which he represented his country more than 300 times – in 68 Tests, 209 ODIs, and 66 T20Is. During his international career, he scored 2000 Test runs, apart from belting 5,658 runs and bagging 39 wickets in ODIs. 

Masakadza retired with an impressive hand of 71 from only 42 balls in a thrilling victory over Afghanistan during the Bangladesh T20I tri-series. After being the captain in all three formats for his country, he was then technically given the role of overseeing the appointment of his successor.

"Lot of ups and downs in the career. Few highlights stand out - being the most capped player for Zimbabwe, Grant Flower handing me the cap when we were playing against Pakistan in Bulawayo, first overseas win in Sri Lanka, and the Test match that we won here which was my first win as a Test captain. Have to give something back to the game, give something back to the youngsters as well. Will try to be around on the domestic circuit and bring some more guys through. All in all, really thankful to the team. All those who supported me. Lots of feelings going through me today. Biggest one is lots of thankfulness," an emotional Masakadza said during the post-match presentation in his farewell match.

When Hamilton Masakadza struck a century on Test debut, in 2001 - at 17 years and 254 days - he became the youngest player to score a test ton, a record which lasted for just over a month before Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful bettered it. The youngster also became the first black player in Zimbabwe to do so, with his 119-run knock on debut, which remains a red letter day in the country's history. 

 

 

At the time, Masakadza was still a schoolboy at Churchill High School in Harare. However, after just a year of international cricket, Masakadza had to a take a break to complete a three-year course at the University of the Free State. As per the agreement, he was still available for Zimbabwe if required, but he could not maintain his form playing against club opposition in South Africa.

The national selectors, who had decided to wait till the batsman completed his degree, had to draft him into the squad due to the Rebel crisis. As expected, on a sudden return to the one-dayers, and that too against a quality England attack, he struggled to find back his feet. A maiden ODI fifty in the final game though gave  him and his backers hope.

That said, his return to the Test match cricket was not the same. Despite not being as consistent as he would have liked, Masakadza was easily Zimbabwe's best batsman on their tour of South Africa. The batsman displayed the ability to bat time and play the moving ball, which many of his teammates lacked.

2009 was the best year for the batsman in ODIs as he scored over 1000 runs in the calendar year at an average of 43.48 and a strike rate of 88.08, which also included his scores of 156 and 178 not out in the home series against Kenya. This was the first time a batsman had got to 150 or more twice in the same one-day series. 

After being sacked as the Zimbabwe captain following a poor World T20, Masakadza was reappointed as captain in 2018, a job that he kept till he decided to walk away as a player from the game.

 

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