MPUMELELO MBANGWA

Mpumelelo Pommie Mbangwa is a Zimbabwean cricket commentator and former cricketer. A right-arm fast bowler, he played 15 Test matches and 29 One Day Internationals for Zimbabwe between 1996 and 2002. After being dropped from the international side after the 2002 Champions Trophy, he took up work as a cricket commentator for television, and he has remained in that line of work since.

His nickname “Pommie” arises from his pseudo-accent that he claims to have picked up during his brief studies in England. However, his formative school years were undertaken in Zimbabwe, a fact that his intonation and pronunciation of certain words and phrases betray. Given a qualification of twenty innings, Mbangwa has the lowest batting average (2.00) of all Test cricketers. However, as of 2008, he is one of nine Zimbabweans to have taken 30 Test wickets, and of those only Heath Streak and David Brain took them at a lower average.

Mbangwa’s rise to prominence was all the more remarkable as he had no family background in cricket. A little short of the top pace, he was primarily a line-and-length bowler, using both seam and swing, with the away-swinger his stock ball. He spent a year at school in England, and in 1996 he went to Madras for coaching by Dennis Lillee; on his return he was offered a place in the Plascon Academy in South Africa, which he attended from April to September 1996.

A surprise choice for the Zimbabwe tour of Pakistan in 1996–97, he made his Test debut after the first choice bowlers were injured but made the most of his opportunity, taking the vital wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Wasim Akram. But thereafter he struggled to maintain consistency, and his lack of pace meant that he was easy picking for international batsmen. He drifted in and out of the side, before disappearing from the international scene. In 2001 he started television commentary, where his quiet thoughtful views were well received, and in 2005 he ended a brief foray into coaching by committing full-time to his TV career. He was one of international cricket’s genuine No. 11s.

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