Birthday special: Tatenda Taibu – The second youngest captain in Test cricket history

Tatenda Taibu hails from a nation that had a promising cricket path ahead of it but failed to continue on it due to a variety of reasons. Even today, while Zimbabwe continues to throw some brilliant talent at the world stage, their administrative tussles, political influence in cricket, and lack of consistency from players hamper their growth.

In his career, Taibu, who turns 39 today, faced many such challenges that Zimbabwe cricket faces even today. A pocket-sized keeper-batsman, Taibu started playing international cricket at the age of 18. Hardly a year into his career, he was appointed the vice-captain of the team aged 19. A couple of years later, in 2004, he was handed the responsibility to lead the national side in the longest format, becoming the youngest Test skipper, aged 20 years and 358 days.

Career highlights

Taibu’s record stood for a decade and a half until Rashid Khan broke it by leading Afghanistan aged 20 years and 350 days in 2019. Having taken over the reins from Heath Streak, skipper Taibu suffered heavy defeats against many sides and he lost 9 out of the 10 Tests he led. While in ODIs, he could manage only two wins from 29 games as a captain.

Though his captaincy career never shot up, his form remained good around that period. His first big moment in international cricket came during the 2003 World Cup, where batting lower down the order, he played some crucial knocks and managed to leave a mark with the gloves too. However, with the burden of captaincy and a long list of losses, his form slumped soon. With no backing from anyone, Taibu found himself under immense pressure and he retired from all forms of cricket at the age of just 24.

But it was not over for him soon. After some domestic cricket, he returned to the national team in 2007 and made a brilliant comeback. When Zimbabwe was back to playing Test cricket, Taibu struck half-centuries in each of Zimbabwe’s one-off Tests against Bangladesh, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

He holds the distinction of scoring 2000 runs and affecting 100 dismissals in ODIs, where he represented the nation in 150 games and scored 3393 runs at an average of 29.25 with two centuries and 22 half-centuries. Meanwhile, in 28 Tests, he amassed 1546 runs at 30.31 with a century and 12 half-centuries.

Taibu is also the first Zimbabwe player to feature in the IPL, where he represented the Kolkata Knight Riders. Having played 28 Tests, 150 One-Day Internationals, and 17 T20Is for Zimbabwe, he hung his boots finally at the age of 29 to focus on spiritual work.