Strang's pursuit of spirituality

HARARE - Bryan Strang’s life has been in a constant turmoil, but the born-again former Zimbabwean cricketer says he has now found spiritual fulfilment through the teachings of Indian spiritual leader Ravi Shankar.

Strang’s promising cricket career was blighted by drink-related issues and cases of indiscipline, coming to a head when he was banned by Zimbabwe Cricket in 2004 following a long-standing disagreement.    

Having taken refuge in drink and drugs, Strang probably reached the lowest point of his life when he took up a job as a road construction worker in the UK in 2007, returning home to Zimbabwe the following year a shattered man and under the grip of manic depression and suicidal tendencies, broken in ways that could never be fixed, it seemed.

What a far cry from the likeable, friendly and useful medium-pace bowler who had gone about his business with quiet efficiency throughout his 26 Test and 49 One-Day International matches for Zimbabwe between 1995 and 2001.

In 2008 Strang was born again, proceeding, the following year, to embrace the teachings of Ravi Shankar (commonly known as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar), the spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems and violence.

The journey has now taken Strang to India, the home of his mentor, where he is currently on a tour and “doing service for guru and travelling to all spiritual places.”

“It’s important to define religion vs spirituality,” Strang, who will be turning 41 in June, tells the Daily News from India.

“We say religion is the banana skin and spirituality is the fruit. You have to peel through the dogma and rules of religion in order to taste the fruit. I was born again in December 2008 and I love Jesus. However, I do not define or put myself in a box regarding my faith and I am happy to sit and learn or praise God in any gathering. So I read different scriptures from all faiths and accept all.”

Bryan Colin Strang’s life had not always been rough.  He was born in a stable and loving family in Bulawayo, where he grew up alongside his older brother Paul, the world-class leg-spinner he would later team up with in the Zimbabwe team. Their father Ron was a renowned first-class cricket umpire.

“My whole life was a preparation for my Rubicon moment, I studied religious studies at UCT (University of Cape Town) and read many spiritual books. However, my faith was more of an intellectual kind and not from the heart. In 2008 I was bored and fed up with the world and struggling to motivate myself or be enthusiastic about anything. I met a man in a street in Surrey, who asked if I needed a prayer. I jumped at the offer and three days later I asked Lord Jesus Christ into my life and my spiritual journey had begun at the ripe age of 34. I was very thirsty for spiritual knowledge. Four months later, I was introduced to the Art of Living Foundation and Sadguru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.”

Strang says the spiritual part of his life was the missing link in his cricket career.

“Any practise or discipline whether it be cricket, karate, yoga or Christianity requires a 100 percent commitment and does not happen overnight... spiritual aspirants or sadaks are walking a path. Sometimes it flows and other times we take the wrong route and get hopelessly lost. God realisation is the goal and as in any journey, there are good and bad times.”

He says of his India visit: “I’m doing service for the guru.  A guru is a teacher, a person who brings one from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. A person who enlightens one on what is real and what is illusion.

“My trip has been awesome. I have seen and experienced the jewel that is India. The good and the bad. I have travelled to Bangalore, Dehli, Rishikesh Gaya, Bodghaya, Calcutta, Hydrabad and back to Bangalore. Most of the journey has been on Indian railways; two ashrams, many temples, great parks, rivers, mountains, etc.”

On his return to Zimbabwe in 2008, Strang has worked as a teacher at Lilfordia primary school, run by the family of former Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell. He has also taught yoga and spirituality at the Indian school, Westridge, in Harare.

 “I consider myself a teacher-coach but I am currently unemployed in Zimbabwe, but will begin new ventures when I return.”

Affectionately known as BC, Strang is currently not involved in Zimbabwean cricket, although he keenly follows goings-on in the game.

 “I still believe Zim has immense talent and all the ingredients for success. However, the mix is wrong, something is missing, the X-factor.”

He is also excited about plans to start a family.

He says: “A bride is on the menu for this year!”

Comments (1)

I am trying to get in touch with Ronny Strang to advise him of the death of my father Wally Mashford of Dartmouth, South Devon. Please pass this on.

KAREN MASHFORD - 13 November 2017

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