Harare: Tatenda Taibu, the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batsman, has announced his retirement, stating that he wants to focus on working for the church. Taibu played 28 Tests and 150 ODIs for Zimbabwe and has quit aged only 29, usually a cricketer's prime.
The decision comes as even more of a surprise as, earlier in the day, he was named in Zimbabwe's provisional squad for September's World Twenty20. It ends an 11-year international career, during which he became the youngest Test captain in history. A finger injury kept him out of top-flight cricket since the tour of New Zealand early this year.
"I just feel that my true calling now lies in doing the Lord's work," Taibu said, "and although I am fortunate and proud to have played for my country, the time has come for me to put my entire focus on that part of my life."
Since making his debut at the age of 18 in 2001, Taibu was an automatic pick for Zimbabwe, except for the times when he clashed with his country's cricket board. He had stepped down as captain and quit the national side back in 2005 following threats against his family. Taibu moved to South Africa in 2006 with the intention of going through the four-year qualification process to be eligible for international cricket for them. However, he reappeared for Zimbabwe in 2007.
One of the highlights of his career was his Man-of-the-Match performance in 2005 against Bangladesh, when he made 85* and 153 to help Zimbabwe draw the Test. His only other Test victory was against Bangladesh last year, when Zimbabwe returned to the format after a six-year exile. Taibu's outspoken nature was highlighted before that match as he slammed the board for not doing enough to promote cricket in the country.
He was picked while still in his teens as a potential long-term successor as wicketkeeper-batsman to Andy Flower, and while he didn't reach the heights Flower did, he forged a solid career. He finishes as the country's fourth-highest run-getter in ODIs, and only Flower has effected more dismissals than him as a one-day wicketkeeper for Zimbabwe.