Coven­try un­fazed by Neg­a­tive Nel­lies

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Brighton Zhawi

WHEN Youth, Sports and Arts Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Kirsty Coven­try re­vealed she called Bren­don Tay­lor rather than Zim­babwe cricket skip­per Hamil­ton Masakadza to con­grat­u­late the Chevrons on a fa­mous win, there was a so­cial me­dia furore.

“I had an amaz­ing chat with @ Bren­danTay­lor86 to send con­grat­u­la­tions to our cricket team. They are so pumped and they should be! Its im­por­tant that all our ath­letes, like our artists and mu­si­cians, have the best en­vi­ron­ment so they can per­form at their ul­ti­mate! Work­ing on it...,” tweeted the min­is­ter af­ter Zim­babwe beat Bangladesh in a Test match.

The anger among some cricket fans was swift. Why call BT when Mud­hara Hammy is the skip­per?

As it turns out, those who ac­cused Min­is­ter Coven­try of all sorts of things where cry­ing more than the be­reaved. Masakadza was cool with it all.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of a meet­ing between the min­is­ter and the Chevrons at Harare Sports Club last Wed­nes­day, the na­tional cricket team skip­per opened up in the in­ci­dent.

“The min­is­ter did in­deed call and she men­tioned that she had ac­tu­ally got my num­ber through BT. It was re­ally a spe­cial mo­ment for her to call us. That was my first time ever to speak to a min­is­ter … I ac­tu­ally froze a lit­tle bit when she first called.

“I im­me­di­ately put it on the (What­sApp) group with the team to say the min­is­ter was send­ing her con­grat­u­la­tions which I thought was a very nice touch from her. It was very en­cour­ag­ing for the boys.

“A lot of the guys look up to her. You saw to­day the num­ber of self­ies that were lined up; it’s some­one who we have al­ways looked up to. She is one of our he­roes, one of the sport­ing leg­ends in Zim. So for her to have called us and have shown us that recog­ni­tion was re­ally a proud mo­ment for us.”

Min­is­ter Coven­try also gave her side of the story.

“My hus­band was at school with Bren­dan and we al­ready had his num­ber and I wanted to get hold of Hamil­ton, so I man­aged to get hold of Bren­dan first. For me there is noth­ing more to it.

“Un­for­tu­nately the po­si­tion that I have now, there will al­ways be a Neg­a­tive Nelly; that comes with the ter­rain. But for peo­ple that ac­tu­ally know me, they know that’s a lot of rub­bish.”

That aside, Masakadza is de­ter­mined to lead Zim­babwe to more wins, hav­ing bagged his first in his se­cond stint as skip­per away to Bangladesh.

Many have called for him to fo­cus on Test cricket only when in fact he is Zim­babwe’s best T20 player, ranked 20th glob­ally among bats­men with 1 516 runs from 58 in­nings.

The next best T20I bats­man from Zim­babwe is El­ton Chigum­bura whose 823 runs have come from 53 in­nings.

But Masakadza takes the crit­i­cism in stride, say­ing he has been crit­i­cised since his first in­ter­na­tional match when he smacked 100 on his Test de­but in the se­cond in­nings against West In­dies at Harare Sports Club in 2001.

Af­ter fail­ing in the first in­nings of the Test, scor­ing nine runs, Masakadza was dis­ap­pointed with him­self and de­cided to walk back to the ho­tel. He got a shocker along the way. “I was walk­ing be­hind th­ese two guys and heard them talk­ing about me. One of them ac­tu­ally men­tioned that I was in the team be­cause of favouritism.

“So even from the first game I played I have had that (crit­i­cism), so it’s some­thing that doesn’t re­ally faze me now.

“I have learnt to deal with it and know there is go­ing to be peo­ple that will al­ways be neg­a­tive but at the same time there will be sup­port­ive peo­ple that are al­ways go­ing to be pos­i­tive even when things aren’t go­ing well,” he said.

Min­is­ter of Youth, Sports, Arts and Re­cre­ation Kirsty Coven­try isn’t af­fected by the wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of her con­grat­u­la­tions tweet to the Zim­babwe Cricket team af­ter a re­cent his­toric Test win over Bangladesh.

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