By Eddie Chikamhi
The appointment of Hamilton Masakadza as substantive captain of the Zimbabwe national cricket team has divided opinion among cricket enthusiasts.
Masakadza, who led the side late last year on the tour of South Africa and Bangladesh after replacing Graeme Cremer, was on Tuesday confirmed as the new captain of all three formats.
The Zimbabwe Cricket board naturally went for experience and the leadership qualities that Masakadza has demonstrated in a career spanning 18 years.
The veteran top order batsman, who turns 36 this year, has previously led the team on separate occasions since 2008.
The new vice-captain is PJ Moor.
However, there has been mixed reaction to the appointment of Masakadza from sections of the supporters who believe ZC should be grooming new talent, especially from the Under-19s, to take over from the current crop of cricketers.
While age is not a big issue in cricket, Masakadza has apparently been slowing down over the years and could do without the extra burden of being the team leader.
Dave Houghton was also 35 when he captained Zimbabwe in their debut Test against India in 1992 and players like John Traicos played on until 45.
There are several other players who have played and even captained their national teams beyond 40 years. ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said, besides his rich experience, Masakadza was chosen because of his ability to lead and inspire teammates. “He is the most experienced player we have on the field at the moment. Experience is vital and the board just felt he is probably the best person to lead the team because he has the qualities.
“Age in cricket is usually not a big factor, as long as the player is still delivering. Of course, we will still be grooming younger players to take over these positions and you can see we have Hami and another younger as his deputy,” said Mukuhlani.
Masakadza experienced mixed fortunes last year when he led the team to South Africa and Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe had been scheduled to play a Test and three ODIs in India next month, according to the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme, but the tour will no longer take place until after the World Cup in June in England.
India will host Australia in a limited overs series until mid-March with the Indian Premier League T20 competition also scheduled later in the month. The Herald