Hamilton Masakadza, who will be leading Zimbabwe in the triangular T20I series against Australia and Pakistan, said on the eve of his side’s opening game that he was excited to be back at the helm.
Zimbabwe will be without some of their top players – Brendan Taylor, Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine have not been selected because of a pay dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket, while Sikandar Raza is away playing in the Global T20 Canada league.
That has allowed Masakadza to take charge of the team. “I’m very excited to be back at the helm and leading the team again,” said Masakadza, who has represented Zimbabwe in 52 T20Is scoring 1460 runs at an average of 29.20.
The leadership role is not new to 34-year-old Masakadza, who has led Zimbabwe in one Test, nine ODIs and five T20Is in the past.
His captaincy mantra is simple: “Try and focus on the job at hand now and go out there and do a job for the team. And do a job for the country.”
“There’s actually been a lot of excitement in the camp, with a few guys coming back that haven’t played for a while and a few new guys making their first strides. It’s upbeat in the camp,” Masakadza said prior to the series opener against Pakistan.
@ZimCricketv skipper Hamilton Masakadza smacks the ball over the bowler's head during Saturday's practice session at Harare Sports Club, where he will lead out his side against @TheRealPCB in the first T20I this Sunday #ZIMvPAK #TriSeries @masakadza pic.twitter.com/78KMHzTvEp
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) June 30, 2018
The absence of Zimbabwe’s top players opened the doors for Elton Chigumbura, their former captain who last played an international game a year-and-a-half ago, and Chamu Chibhabha, the top-order batsman who last featured in a T20I game against India in 2016, to come back.
On the two experienced hands, Masakadza said, “He’s still got a lot of international cricket left in him, and for me right now it will be important to have guys like that in the changing room. Guys like him and Chamu, that have some experience behind them, it will really help my job to have guys like that around.”
Zimbabwe also have a new coach, with former India opening batsman Lalchand Rajput joining them soon after Heath Streak and the rest of the coaching staff was sacked in the wake of Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the 10-team 2019 World Cup.
“He’s a very positive guy, that’s the main thing that’s really stuck out, though we haven’t been with him for very long,” Masakadza said. “He’s a positive individual and he’s encouraged the guys a lot and got us thinking positively, which is very important for us.”
Zimbabwe are currently positioned at No.12 in the ICC T20I team rankings and will have a tough competition against Pakistan, the No.1 side, and Australia, who are third on the list.
But Masakadza feels that in the 20-over format, every team has a chance to turn the game their way.
“When we play against these bigger teams we’re always underdogs,” he said. “It’s not the first time that we’ve been here. The guys just have to understand that in T20, anything can happen and anyone can turn a game on their day.”