The bat and wicket-keeping pads have given way to a Bible over the last 18 months and he rarely lets go of it.
The face still remains cherubic as ever and he still resembles a school-kid in a grown mans body. A lot has changed in the life of Tatenda Taibu since he hung up his gloves in February 2012,a retirement decision that shocked the cricketing world.
Once the face of Zimbabwe cricket,however beleaguered and disjointed it might have been,the 29-year-old former captain spends most of his time these days in the confines of his modest home. There is no television here,no other mode of entertainment either. Theres no way for Taibu to keep a tab on his once beloved sport. And he does not intend to.
In fact,the diminutive Taibu,the first black captain to lead Zimbabwe,insists that he doesnt have anything to do with cricket anymore. To the extent that he prefers remaining disconnected. All hes devoted to these days is his church service and in spreading the name of the Lord. And he reels of quotes and verses from the Bible as fluently as he once drove a cricket ball through the covers.
There are many theories regarding his inopportune departure last year. Some questioned his will to withstand the rigours of international cricket. Others questioned his attitude,claiming that he never had the best interests of Zimbabwean cricket at his heart.
Taibu,who played 28 Tests,150 ODIs and 17 T20 internationals,insists that his decision to go came after he was left facing an existential crisis,where he had begun questioning his own beliefs and principles. He had just scored a couple of half-centuries against New Zealand and rather than focus on his batting form,Taibu reveals to have begun wondering about internal peace and whether he was actually happy within.
I was not happy. My heart was looking for peace and I was trying to find it in this unreal world. Thats the time I started reading the Bible and all my doubts began clearing, says Taibu,who also runs a small real-estate business to put food on the table.
Initially,he had planned to last until the World T20,scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka later that year,but he chose to pull the plug then and there. His teammates,the same ones who had been accused of revolting against the board on his behest,were left as shocked as everyone else. And there were a number of misunderstandings following Taibus exit.
Its hard to make them understand. Many of my teammates still misunderstand me. People living on the other side of the river will never understand where Im at. Im transformed now. These material things are immaterial to me. A day will come when the same people will look for peace and may God help me to guide them, adds Taibu,a member of the Eagle Eye Tabernacle church.
Taibu was a wonder-kid,who made his first tour with the Zimbabwe senior team as a 15-year-old before making his debut three years later. The money and fame-not to forget a one-year IPL contract with Kolkata Knight Riders-that came along with his cricket hold no meaning to him anymore. And he explains his change in view towards the extravagances that are prevalent in the life of an international sportsman by reading out from his Bible.
Desire and need makes you do things that one shouldnt. Theres more to life than that. Once I asked myself how long I would last in cricket. But what after that? Lara,Tendulkar and Ponting are champions on the field but what about their life after cricket? Thats a big question waiting ahead, he says.
Over the last few months,Taibu has also distributed his cricketing gear and other mementos to anyone whos bothered to ask him. He has held on to a few pictures and memories in his wardrobe. Those he says include his photos with Tendulkar and Lara just so that someday in the future he can tell people about having known these great cricketers personally.
He is soon joined by his wife Loveness. And Taibu insists that in the midst of all the negativity surrounding his retirement,it was her support that proved most crucial.
I made her read the Bible too and she understood where I was coming from. One Saturday I told her I will be retiring on Monday and she was fine with it. We didnt need any celebrity status anymore, he explains,as the couple prepared for their evening prayer session.