Taibu looks to turn the tide

Taibu looks to turn the tide

Taibu led the side for a while before quitting the job and country in 2005, fed up with an incompetent system but he returned to Zimbabwe two years later and now forms an integral part of a Zimbabwe team that’s trying to revive the good days. Deccan Herald caught up with Taibu for a chat.


Do you feel accepted in the dressing room after coming back?

It was never a problem because I kept in touch with the guys. I am a very easygoing person. So the guys were really happy with my return, rather than being nervy. It’s also because I always try to lift the side and I am bubbly regardless of the situation of the match. Prosper Utseya, who was captain then, too was happy to have me back because having been the captain before I was in a position to help him out with my experience.

Tell us about what you felt when you returned to the team as a player after having been the captain once…

There is less pressure. I can concentrate more on my batting. I am not worried that my next decision could hinder the team. The eyes are not on you, which always helps as a batsman and as a wicket-keeper. In the heat of the moment, you are not the one who’re looked at. Elton (Chigumbura) is being looked at now. At least I am away from such pressures.

Was it emotional for you being away when Zimbabwean cricket was going through the turmoil?

It was emotional. The fact that I wasn’t there to fight with the boys and there were some big losses that we suffered. I remember watching the boys struggle against Sri Lanka in the West Indies during the last World Cup and I thought I could have definitely made a difference if I was there. So, it was emotional. It would have been so great if I had been there to help the boys out.

You once spoke about playing for South Africa, was that an act of desperation?

The main intent behind that statement was that I wanted to let everyone know that international cricket wasn’t over for me. If I wasn’t going to come back and play for Zimbabwe then I had to have other options. Because I knew that I still wanted to play international cricket.

Does that mean you didn’t actually want to play for South Africa? Or are you happy that it didn’t materialise so that you were able to return to Zimbabwe?            

(Laughs) I always enjoyed playing against South Africa. They are a tough bunch and nothing comes easy against them. If there was any team which would be the hardest to break into, it would be South Africa. I have always liked challenges. I think whatever happens always happens for the good. And the fact that it went this way is a sign that God wanted it to happen this way, and thought was the best thing for me.

Now that you’ve returned, are you happy with the system?      

Not exactly as we’ve to go a long way. One of the main problems back then was the structure of first-class cricket. Now the structure is much better and it’s easier for guys to step up to that level. That’s the big change in Zimbabwe that prompted me to come back.

Do you still remember those disturbing days – black armband protest and all that?

Oh yes. Once Andy (Flower) came up to me and said there are going to be a lot of things happening over the next few days, and I don’t want you to think about them. If I tell you then you will not be able to concentrate on your game. I never really wanted to find out what it was all about. I thought he was talking about the hype surrounding the World Cup. A little later, I realised the magnitude of his words and all of a sudden I was the captain and I wasn’t ready at that stage for the job.

How different was the dressing-room then without Olonga, the Flower brothers and Campbell, players whom you looked up to?

It was a different feeling. There was no one to look up to. Before that whenever there was a difficult situation you always had so many people to look to for answers as a young cricketer. All of a sudden they were all gone and the guys were looking to me for answers. As a captain you have to ensure that you never look like you are struggling because that has an impact on the younger players. As a youngster I used to walk in to the dressing-room and have all these senior guys taking the pressure off you. But all of a sudden as captain I learnt to fake it and portray that everything was fine, hoping that the youngsters would gain confidence.

Now that many of these guys have returned in various roles, how helpful it’s for Zimbabwe cricket?

I always used to call them regularly and all these guys were always close to the ground. Now, instead of making a call, they are right here now and we can discuss all the technical issues. It’s certainly a good thing to have happened for Zimbabwe cricket.