'I can no longer turn my back on something that means so much'

HARARE - Although I still have the honour and privilege of writing for the Daily News, it is probably common knowledge by now that I have taken a back seat in the commentary box, and have been keeping a very low profile in general.

 Many people and in particular former colleagues have been displeased bordering on harsh towards me and the decision I made back in July last year.

 I honestly thought that life would go on as normal after cricket.

 After all, you often hear players whose careers are drawing to an end say that life goes on after cricket.

 There is another saying used by Christians that says that God knows what he is doing when people are born with disabilities, and I do believe they may have a valid point.

 I say this because, if I was born sighted, I would probably have invented Wheelchair cricket, such is my love for the game.

 So instead, I have the good fortune of being able to talk and write about the game for as long as my senses allow me to do so, which begs the question my very good friend and co-commentator Neil Manthorp asked me.

 Why on earth would I want to turn my back on something that is so very close to my heart, and something I am so passionate about? And the answer to that would be a very simple one.

 I made a mistake, and I am not afraid to admit that.

 Now, I have left myself the unenviable task of trying to get back where I belong, a challenge that I will overcome.

 But, in my momentarily loss of sanity, we have been treated to some fascinating cricket.

 South Africa have become the undisputed champions of Test cricket, and are clearly working towards the number one spot in One-Day International cricket as well.

 This theory will be put to the test when they desperately try to add a trophy to their collection in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy which will be played in England later this year.

 They have a formidable batting line-up, led by Hashim Amla, who in my opinion has become the Prince of South African batting.

 His remarkable ability to score runs both sides of the wicket at a brisk rate has earned the respect of players and media around the world, and rightly so.

 AB de Villiers and captaincy is like a breath of fresh air, which matches his free-flowing style of batting.

 Teams from the sub-continent have had their fair share of success as well.

 India have been in rampant form against a depleted Australian team who despite a good leader and outstanding batsman in Michael Clarke, who has made batting look ridiculously easy over the last year.

 No matter where he plays, he seems to have made most venues his playground, and the opposition his invited guests, who he plays with.

 Clarke's predicament is not to dissimilar to that of former Zimbabwean icon Andrew Flower, who churned out century after century, but, more often than not, found himself on the losing end of a Test match, which consequently earned him the nickname of THE LONE RANGER.

 Bangladesh, who will be touring Zimbabwe next month, have had reason to smile as well, after a very good performance against Sri Lanka in the first of two Test matches.

 Granted, the pitch was as unresponsive as and as flat as a highway, but they would have grown in self-belief and confidence thanks to Mohammad Ashraful and captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who posted totals of 190 and 200 respectively.

 The sheer joy on their and the team's faces was a sight to behold as they had the home side under pressure on more than one occasion in the test series.

 The Test series between New Zealand has been hampered by bad weather, which is a crying shame, given the quality of cricket by both teams.

 Zimbabwe will have to pull out all the stops when they take on the West Indies in the second Test which gets underway later today, and as hard as it is to do, they have to put what happened behind them and focus on lasting the full five days.

 This may prove to be a difficult task against a team who looks hungry and determined to get back to the glory team who dominated Test cricket from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, as their never ending line of fast bowlers turned the opposition's batsmen's bellies to jelly, while their batsmen ripped any bowling attack to shreds, thanks to their breath taking style of Calypso cricket.

 And, even as I experience the mixed emotions of hope, sadness, frustrations and at times outright anger when watching my beloved Zimbabwe, the feeling that overpowers all the feelings of disappointment, is that I could have been part of something so beautiful, had I not walked away from it.

 I am grateful to those who have been talking to me and reminding me that cricket is in my blood and that cricket is where I belong.

 These statements are as guaranteed as the sunrise we will witness before going about our daily business, and I have come to this simple but very real conclusion.

 I can no longer turn my back on something I love and deny a talent God has blessed me with.

 It would be sacrilege to do so. - Dean du Plessis

*Leading Zimbabwean cricket writer and broadcaster Dean du Plessis, who was born blind, is a Daily News on Sunday columnist and regular contributor to the Daily News. He can be contacted by e-mail: dean.duplessis77@gmail.com, or Skype: dean.du.plessis31.



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