Meet Jamaica’s ‘Baba Harare’

Column - The Third Man Sport

I wasn’t really surprised when West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell said he would name his child ‘Harare’.

I am back again, your Third Man.

Remember I am on my imaginary tour to Australia for some interviews.

But as you may know a flight to Aussie is long and as we deal with turbulence and unusual stuff that happens in the air, I thought I could take you to one of my Net Diaries.

Net Diaries, these are some special chapters of my cricket journey, moments I have interacted with some of the big names in international cricket.

Justin Langer- yes please.

Mitchell Guy Johnson, the destroyer as some like to call him.

Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Callum MacLeod, Sikandar Raza, Chamu Chibhabha the list goes on and on.

In my previous articles as a print journalist I shared my Net Diary on Langer, Johnson and Steyn.

Last week I stopped over in Kigali where Leonard Nhamburo says he is seeing a big future in Rwanda’s Cricket.

And as we fly past continents and seeing all the earth’s beauty from above it sparked a memory from a meeting with a West Indian player.

This player is on record saying if he has a child he will name the baby “Harare” after Zimbabwe’s capital city.

Zimbabwe has its own “Baba Harare” a jiti artiste popular for his “notorious” lyrics on fast tempo African sound.

West Indies will have its own version, a cricketer whose life story is inspirational and emotional.

This lad told me Africa is like home to him because he feels a connection.

Read on, we will meet him soon.

Rovman Powell celebrates scoring his maiden ODI 100 at the Harare Sports Club in 2019.

The West Indies team was in Zimbabwe for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2019.

It was more of an ignominy for their status and swag.

But in sport it is what it is, stats state the true story.

But there is something about the West Indies brothers.

As a net bowler bowling to these international players is a good yardstick on your level.

” Do that again and again and again, that’s what gets you the big contracts,” said the West Indies bowling coach after I dotted captain Jason Holder with three fuller out swingers.

Net bowling is a chapter I will touch on in the coming weeks. It’s a massive part of cricket.

So receiving such feedback from an international coach was a big confidence booster which I probably needed after some shellacking by the previous batters I bowled to.

Shimron Hetmyer is confidence written all over him.

His swaggering steps, the studs, and fearless batting.

Bowling to him I knew the challenge so naturally I increased my intensity and those who know me would agree that I can turn into a different animal in a cricket competition. This soft side – I put aside.

So I bowled one fuller out swinger which Hetmyer played and missed.

I gave him the stare.

The next one I bowled my heart out and he left it alone with a smile. I gave him the stare.

Third delivery.

Damn it, he walked down the track and clobbered my length delivery over long into the distance. It got almost everyone’s attention.

He swapped with his batting partner Evin Lewis a man of few words.

His focus was sharp.

Being a leftie like Hetmyer probably expected an out swinger, but I started with an in swinging fuller delivery.

Bowled him and the stare.

The dude had a quick chat with Hetmyer. He confirmed his centre and from there my bowling was consistently hit (out of the net) like a snare drum.

I was relieved when the coach shouted “Time, batters swap!”

That’s when my man came. The man who has inspired this Net Diary.

There is a short documentary about some West Indies players.

Keemo Paul, Oshane Thomas and Rovman Powell are some of the featured players in the Caribbean Premier League Life Stories documentaries.

Watching Powell’s story, I was touched. His life story is heart-breaking but he says that’s what made him a success story.

He didn’t know his father in fact in the documentary his mother Joan Plummer reveals that Rovman’s father wanted her to abort the pregnancy.

Rovman Powell with his mother Joan Plummer

“I have no hard feelings for him,” Powell says in the documentary.

 He lived with his mother and sister in two rooms.

It’s a common trait on guys with these sad upbringing.

One of my favourite basketball players Jimmy Butler was disowned by his mother when he was 14 and endured a challenging childhood but says: “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me for what happened to me”.

Powell is the same.

So there is a part of his documentary where he recalls his first international 100 which he scored- yes please, at Harare Sports Club.

“I decided that because I scored my first hundred in Harare, hopefully if I get my first child, pretty little daughter, she will be named Harare Powell.”

“What if it’s a boy,” interjected his sister.

“I don’t know, maybe Zimbabwe Powell,” he said as they all burst into a laughter.

“Can’t wait, my granddaughter” shouted Powell mother.

So you see why I call him “Baba Harare”, Powell the West Indies Baba Harare.

Watching this emotional part of the documentary I smiled.

It evoked memories of my meeting with the soft spoken and kind lad.

I had an interesting conversation with him after bowling to him in the nets.

Yes, we are back in the nets.

“How do you find Zimbabwe so far?”

“I love it man and this place will always hold a special place in my heart because of my first hundred”

There is a signed Rovman Powell window panel in the Harare Sports Club media box.

Rovman Powell signs a window panel he broke with a six at the Harare Sports Club Media Centre

He broke it with one of his sixes on his great innings when he scored his only ODI hundred to date against Ireland.

One of my best mates Kuda Chirume, a future guest on this column would love me to share a certain conversation we had with Rovman Powell and Steven Sylvester who was West Indies team psychologist during the Qualifier. But I won’t.

My relationship with Sylvester was so cool that he sent me his book “Detox your Ego” when he returned to the UK.

Rovman Powell then later gave me an exclusive interview. He is such a cool man.

Being Brighton Zhawi I have tried reaching him out on social media to no avail.

It’s still fine he probably has forgotten, but may if I say “25-year old Virgin” it can evoke something from one crazy conversation we had at the nets.

On Facebook I am Brighton Zhawi

I am Brighton Zhawi on Twitter

I am brighton.zhawi@zimpapers.co.zw