Brandon Moyo, Sports Reporter
Cricket has evolved over the years and with the introduction of shorter forms of the game, such as T20 and T10 over cricket making the sport faster and more entertaining to watch.
Hard-hitting batters, who can score quickly at a higher strike rate, have become fan favourites regardless of the format they play. The likes of Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers, Martin Guptill, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, and Shahid Afridi are some of the names that have earned nicknames based on their style of play. Gayle is known as the “Universe’s Boss”, De Villiers was referred to as “MR 360” and Afridi was called “Boom Boom”.
In the domestic T20 league, Cephas Zhuwao is the big hitter that has become a nightmare for bowlers all over the country. He finished as the leading run scorer in the league and was named batter of the tournament for his impressive 240 runs in six innings. Zhuwao has earned himself the nickname “The Big Bully” while others call him “The Mayor” for his big hitting abilities. He also scored four half-centuries in the six innings, striking at 196,72. He scored 22 fours and 18 sixes for Southern Rocks. The second leading run getter was Peter Moor with 197 runs from four innings.
In the Pro50 Championship, he was the third leading run scorer with 329 runs at an average of 41,13 and strike rate of 144,93, scored the fourth most sixes in the tournament with 14 and second most fours with 44 despite his team finishing at the bottom of the standings.
“The name Mayor came from other guys that I used to practice cricket within my neighbourhood and they were like, everywhere you go people are just greeting you, everyone knows you, that’s when the nickname Mayor came.
“And the nickname, Big Bully, I got it from my coach, one of the people that I respect more, someone who actually pushed me to be where I am, that name came from my coach, Stephen Mangongo when we were practising and when he was also the national team head coach, he used to tell other guys that I am a bully because I used to hit the ball out of the ground, hit sixes and that’s when he gave me that name and most people ended up calling me Big Bully through Mr Mangongo,” said Zhuwao.
Zhuwao’s journey into the sport began at Glen View 2 Primary School, where he was taught by George Muza. He later transferred to Glen View 3 Primary School, where they had facilities and a coach employed by Zimbabwe Cricket. Zhuwao began playing club cricket in Form One and later got the chance to play for one of the biggest and oldest franchise teams in the country, Eagles (then Mashonaland), where he played with some of his childhood heroes.
When Zhuwao walks in to bat against any opposition, he always goes with one goal, to take his team all the way to the line. Playing his natural game puts him in the right state whenever he goes down to the centre. Zhuwao loves playing cricket in Harare and Bulawayo and is part of the Southerns team. He made his debut for the national team in 2008 and has played 16 international games to date.
“I enjoy, especially early on, playing my game, my free game, making use of the power-play to look to launch the ball over the fielders and also to clear the boundary because that is my strength. In my mind, I will just be enjoying and expressing myself, playing my game, and not going there with two minds. I have been told to go and play my game which is to hit the ball and take the team home and also put a good base to the upcoming batters who will be coming in the middle because it will be easy for them to manoeuvre and keep the scoreboard ticking,” said the 38-year-old.
Coming from a high-density suburb in the capital, where the sport was not that popular, getting to play for one of the biggest and oldest franchise teams in the country, Eagles (then Mashonaland) is one of the Big Bully’s highlights in his career as he got the chance to play with some of his childhood heroes.
Zhuwao made his debut for the national team in 2008 and his last international outing was in October 2018 when the Chevrons faced Bangladesh in Chattogram in a One Day International (ODI) encounter which they lost by seven wickets. To date, he has played 16 international games, nine in ODIs and seven in T20Is.
“I can only say to the fans, they will see more highlights, more of me playing my free game because we still have more games to play, our local leagues and franchise also,” he said.
Zhuwao, who enjoys playing cricket in Harare and Bulawayo is part of the Southerns team that is playing against the English county sides, Glamorgan and Durham in Harare as part of the visitors’ pre-season preparations.
In recent years, hard-hitting batters have become the norm, and the way the game is played has changed. The approach to batting has become more aggressive and entertaining, which is what fans love to watch. Big-hitting batters like Zhuwao have become the new fan favourites, and the entertainment value of cricket has never been higher. — @brandon_malvin