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Elton Chigumbura... 34 All Out - Zimbabwe Today
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Elton Chigumbura… 34 All Out

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ZIMBABWE cricket fans have shown their appreciation for the service that former captain Elton Chigumbura rendered the nation in an international career spanning 16 years.

The 34-year-old all-rounder announced at the weekend that he was walking away from all forms of international cricket. His last international assignment will be the limited-overs series currently underway in Pakistan.

A veteran of many battles over the past 16 years, Chigumbura made the decision to bring the curtain down on his career as injuries had continued to take a toll on him as well as to pave the way for young blood in the national side.

His decision was roundly welcomed by the local cricket fraternity, with some fans reminiscing on his explosive heydays while others felt it was about time since he was struggling to maintain top form of late.

The cricket fans took to social media to express their feelings about Chigumbura’s decision.

“What a player, you have served your country with loyalty and dignity. All the best in your future endeavors,” tweeted Frank Mawoza

“Solid distinguished career he has had… should’ve easily played double that number & that remains an unanswered debate… One of the best to have been seen in that Zimbabwe jersey without a doubt,” added Davis Karashani.

The 34-year-old all-rounder is part of the side taking on Pakistan in three T20I matches that ends tomorrow in Rawalpindi.

Once a medium-pace-bowling allrounder who became a frontline batsman in the latter stages of his career, Chigumbura will be remembered as Zimbabwe’s best power-hitter of his time.

He made his debut in international cricket in 2004 after the exodus of an upheaval in Zimbabwe cricket, at the end of which a number of rebels left the cricket set-up, and quickly established for himself a permanent place in the middle order.

His international career started off on April 20, 2004 when, at the age of 18, he faced Sri Lanka in an ODI match played in Harare.

During his career he also served as Zimbabwe’s limited-overs captain from August 2014 before stepping down in January 2016.

Chigumbura is one of Zimbabwe’s most-capped players, having played 281 international matches – excluding the current series – in which he made 5 761 runs and took 138 wickets.

“Mhizha, you came and served your country at a time when cricket was at the brink of collapse. Thank you and here is to wishing you all the best with,” commented Oscar Kahlamba in reaction to Zimbabwe Cricket’s Facebook post.

“Player with a massive heart!! Delivered some famous wins over the years!” recalled Twitter user, Jason Brickhill.

“We are thankful for your contribution to our squad over the years. A real legend,” said a Twitter user by the name Mcdapah.

“He is really talented & under different circumstances & better resources could have been elevated to greater heights,” added another Twitter user going by the name Albert Hawlking.

Renowned as an explosive finisher during his prime, he has to date scored two centuries and 26 fifties across all formats. As he bows out, he has made 213 ODI and 14 Test appearances for Zimbabwe, with 54 T20I matches under his belt before the start of his swansong series.

“Still remember him smashing a brilliant ton in the last tour to Pakistan. On his day, he is still absolutely class,” tweeted Waseem Warraich.

Others felt Chigumbura could have made the decision a few years back as he has been battling injuries and lack of form in recent times.

“It was about time. Good luck in his future endeavors!” said Lovemore Matawu.

“He has clearly realised he is taking the place of a younger player. Chiggy was a high quality player in his prime… a difference maker. This is a responsible decision likely on his own form. Thank you for the good time Elton!” posted Daniel Rosam.

“You served your country well asi makanonoka kuretire mukuru (you were a bit late on your retirement)”, opined Ronnie Chirimuta.

In terms of captaincy, Chigumbura was first given the reins in 2010 before another spell in 2014. But towards the end of that stint, his form with the bat began to fade sharply, and the fact that he was no longer an allrounder put significant pressure on him.

Subsequently, his struggles, especially against pace, were evident and he last managed a half-century in either format over four years ago.

His career with the ball isn’t completely a footnote; he took a five-wicket haul against Bangladesh in just his third Test, but that was over 15 years ago. Just as he began a promising international career, a stress fracture in his back meant he would no longer be a genuinely quick bowler. As such, he was more of a utility sixth bowler than a central figure, though it did perhaps spur him on with the bat.

A sign of his stature is that he was a rare Zimbabwean cricketer to get franchise T20 contracts, plying his trade with the Barbados Tridents in the CPL, the Quetta Gladiators in the PSL, and the Sylhet Royals in the BPL. The IPL proved elusive, but a career that began in the bitter turmoil of the 2004 rebels’ saga didn’t shape out too badly.

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