HARARE – Zimbabwe batsman Stuart Matsikenyeri has followed his childhood friend Tatenda Taibu into early retirement as the local game’s financial crisis continues to take a toll on the players.
Matsikenyeri, 30, was one of the country’s brightest young prospects when he made his debut for Zimbabwe as a 19-year-old against Pakistan 11 years ago.
A product of the famed Zimbabwe Cricket development programme which churned out the majority of the country’s black cricketers, Matsikenyeri went on to earn 112 ODI and eight Test caps for his country.
Mashonaland Eagles coach Steve Mangongo, who was heavily involved in grooming Matsikenyeri and his contemporaries at Takashinga Cricket Club, described the top-order batsman and part-time spinner’s retirement as a “huge loss.”
Matsikenyeri was the Eagles captain at the time of his retirement.
“It’s very unfortunate to lose a man of Stuart’s calibre, who had such a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game and we expected that his valuable expertise would be passed on to the younger generation,” Mangongo told the Daily News.
“Such is life, but it has to go on and I guess it’s an opportunity for other players to step in and fill his boots, no matter how big they may be.”
Matsikenyeri’s retirement comes a year after that of his long-time friend Tatenda Taibu.
Taibu, Zimbabwe’s first black captain, shocked the cricket world last year when he announced his retirement from the game at 29, to concentrate on his gospel mission.
And now Matsikenyeri has joined a long list of Zimbabwean cricket players either forced out of the game altogether or have taken their talents elsewhere due to poor remuneration and working conditions.
The list is indeed endless, but in more recent times, former national side all-rounder Greg Lamb quit the game at 32 while three months later 24-year-old pace spearhead Kyle Jarvis accepted an English County contract before retiring from international cricket.