In November 2015, Neville Madziva produced one of the greatest T20 International knocks, scoring 18 runs off the last over bowled by Bangladesh off-spinner Nasir Hossain in Dhaka. Seven months later, Madziva starred again, defending eight runs in the last over as Zimbabwe beat India in a T20 in Harare.
Madziva denied the great Indian finisher MS Dhoni four runs off the last ball and Zimbabwe won by two runs. The kid from Kadoma was on top of the world. But what happened next? Read on as Madziva, who says he is not yet “finished” chats to Brighton Zhawi In the Oval this week.
BZ: The Bangladesh miracle or defending eight runs bowling to the great MS Dhoni. Which one is your favourite performance?
NM: Personally I would go for both, but the MS one was more special because it was in front of the home fans.
BZ: I remember your celebration after denying Dhoni a boundary off the last ball. You must have been greatly chuffed?
NM: It’s always a good thing to win bro, especially coming victorious against a team like India, it’s not often that a Zimbabwe team win against such a team like India.
BZ: The two performances happened in seven months, first in Bangladesh before India at home. How did you feel about your game at that stage?
NM: I was full of confidence and self-belief.
BZ: For someone who did the “impossible” twice, how does it feel to win a game for your country?
NM: Amazing, unspeakable joy. All the joy belongs to God for those match-winning performances and plenty more to come.
BZ: Oftentimes, I have come across people asking, “what happened to Neville Madziva?” You were seen as Zimbabwe’s finisher down the batting order and also a skilful bowler.
NM: (laughs) nothing happened to 07 (his international jersey number). Neville is still around and trying to control the controllables. I am still confident and have faith in God that I can fulfill that role in the team. Recently I finished as the top run scorer in the Logan Cup which is a plus, now I have time to work on my bowling and soon all shall be well.
BZ: Speaking of the Logan Cup, you also scored a maiden First Class ton. Sign that you want a Test cap, perhaps?
(Madziva made his international debut in an ODI against South Africa in 2014 and has 12 caps, 15 T20 matches to date. He made a comeback against Singapore in a T20 in September 2019 breaking a lengthy hiatus).
NM: Like I said, I now try to control the controllables, I can’t control the selection part, but yes, it’s in every cricketer’s dream to play Test cricket, so who am I not to say I don’t want to play Test cricket?
BZ: You have been sort of, in and out of the team. How much does that affect one as a player? When you earn a call again does it feel like starting all over again?
NM: Yes, it does feel like starting all over again, but one thing I learnt at that level, is you have to adapt fast and always have confidence in yourself. It is all about learning and adapting fast, not forgetting and praying to the Almighty’s hand.
BZ: You were in one of the teams set to play against the English County teams, Derbyshire and Durham, before the global lockdowns. How important was that inclusion to you?
NM: Very important, to be honest. They are such games that add value in terms of national team selection. I was looking forward to them but unfortunately because of Covid-19, we could not continue.
BZ: For someone who produced two world-class T20 performances, how much do you love whiteball cricket and would you love to be a T20 gun for hire?
NM: I just love the intensity in whiteball cricket and because that’s the only version I have played so far, I can safely say I love it.
Who doesn’t want to play all over the world and gain experience?
BZ: At this stage of your career, do you have any cricket targets you have set for yourself?
NM: I don’t like dealing with targets sometimes, because once you reach them you might relax just because you have reached them.
I will work hard and never limit God. I might have smaller targets yet God has bigger plans, that is what I mean when I say I don’t want to limit God.
BZ: Which players would say influenced your all-rounder skills?
NM: Jacques Kallis.
BZ: How much did working with Jason Gillespie help your game when he coached Rhinos?
NM: “Dizzy”, as we call him, helped me a lot because that is the period I also got my opportunity to play first-class cricket. God bless him wherever he is.
BZ: Has the lockdown been of any benefit to you?
NM: Yes, it has really helped. I took some time to think about what I should do, work on and also to improve my life as a whole.
BZ: You have been involved in charity, doing donations with your girlfriend a few years back. What inspires you to do that?
NM: I learnt that from Prophet Walter Magaya. When you get blessed, also take time to bless others even with the little you have. You have to remember those in need.
BZ: Where you involved in some charity work in this Covid-19 situation?
NM: We have never stopped doing that with my girlfriend, Esnath Kalitsilo.
BZ: Tell me about your love for soccer. Have heard guys joking that your wicket-celebrations are un-cricket like, you act as a soccer player, they say?
NM: (laughs) I love football, those who learnt at Jameson will tell you about “Gagz” operating in the midfield and, yes, that’s where some of the celebrations came from.
BZ: You still play for fun or fitness?
NM: Both fun and fitness. Before Covid-19, I was playing for Empire Gym.
BZ: Besides the IPL, which other leagues do you like?
NM: All of them, mate.
BZ: So for those wondering where is Neville Madziva, the all-rounder who once exhibited fabulous performances … what do you want them to know?
NM: Watch the space, God’s time is the best.
BZ: So Neville, the finisher, is not yet finished?
NM: Never bro, God is in control and He is the One who determines my career.