FOUR years after his infamous spat with then Chevrons interim coach Steve Mangongo, Zimbabwe leg spinner Natsai Mushangwe is ready to make his claim for national cricket team colours again.
Back in 2013, Mangongo and Mushangwe were involved in a bust-up after the latter failed to deliver instructions while serving as 12th man in a Twenty20 tie between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
The coach is said to have told Mushangwe to convey an instruction to Hamilton Masakadza, who was at the crease, but instead the bowler went to enjoy some food.
While Mushangwe did take part in Zimbabwe’s three-match Test series against Bangladesh the following year, the now 26-year-old failed to make an impact with the bat and took only seven wickets as the Chevrons went down 0-3.
A subsequent combination of a shoulder injury and being overlooked by selectors, who perhaps felt the national team could do without his insolence, would leave the Manicaland cricketer out in the cold.
However, all that appears to be water under the bridge as “Gabba” appears to have made peace with his former coach and is ready to give it another go.
“I will always honour and respect Steve for his input in my career,” said Mushangwe of the 2013 incident. “At 17 years I got selected to play for Zimbabwe A in Namibia and at that age he believed in me and I played all the games and performed well. From time to time whenever he is free I talk to him to understand the game more.”
Mushangwe recently reached 200 First Class wickets when he produced career-best figures of 8/91 against Midlands last month, and views this milestone as the first step to regaining his place in the Chevrons.
“Firstly I would like to thank God for the performance,” he said. “Going into that game my main focus was getting six wickets to get to my first class milestone of 200 wickets and that contributed to my success I guess.”
He believes he still has what it takes to make an impact with the national team.
“I am doing everything possible to make sure I am strong physically and I will not rest until I achieve that,” he said.
With the 200-wicket milestone reached, Mushangwe is looking to the Logan Cup as the next step in getting back into good stead with selectors.
His Manicaland side, who are taking on Mashonaland, lead the Logan Cup log with 23 points, five clear of second-placed Midwest Rhinos with one match still to be played.
“I strongly believe we will achieve it and personally I want to finish as the leading wicket-taker on the Logan Cup,” said Mushangwe.
He aso leads the table for most wickets – 21 scalps in five matches.