HARARE – When the great Andy Flower popped over at Lilfordia for a brief visit eight years ago, euphoria engulfed the “little school in the bush.”

Zimbabwe’s finest cricketer of all time wasn’t hanging around for too long, so authorities decided to send out just two of the school’s best players for a quick practice session with the surprise guest.

One of the boys was Matthew Campbell, nephew of the school’s headmaster Donald Campbell, and son of Flower’s old Zimbabwe teammate Alistair Campbell.

Accompanying Matt was fellow grade six pupil Tanatswa Marumani, a nine-year-old wonder-kid from the townships of Chitungwiza, brought to the elite junior school on a cricket scholarship.

Star-struck Tanatswa has kept a picture of him and Flower from that 2015 meeting. This past Sunday during Zimbabwe’s second T20I against India at Harare Sports Club, 19-year-old Marumani – now a sports photographer – couldn’t miss another Kodak moment with his idol.

Tanatswa Marumani covers the second T20I between Zimbabwe and India at Harare Sports Club on Sunday. PICTURE: Wonder Mashura.

The World Cup-winning former England coach is back home in Zimbabwe as part of the commentary team for India’s tour.

“Obviously I didn’t grow up watching him, as he had retired,” Tanatswa, young brother of Zimbabwe batsman Tadiwanashe Marumani, tells SportsCast.

“But by that time he came to Lilfordia I had heard of him, so I was pretty excited. It was special, even more special that I’m also left-handed. As I grew older and understood cricket more, I started watching YouTube videos of him batting. What he achieved – not only as a player and captain, but as a coach – was absolutely phenomenal. I mean, he’s a World Cup-winning coach. I kept that 2015 photo in my ‘favourites’ and would look at it once in a while. And then it meant more as I got to understand who Andy was. When I saw him on Sunday, I was quite nervous to come up to him and say ‘hi’. So (former Zimbabwe player) Dirk Viljoen, who I was chatting with at the time, called him up and I got the opportunity to speak to him. He was quite busy so we didn’t talk much. But I asked to take a photo with him to add to my ‘favourites’, next to the other one.”

There are three cricket-playing Marumani siblings, hailing from Chitungwiza, a dormitory town just outside the capital city Harare. Tawananyasha, their youngest sister, has featured for Zimbabwe Women Under-19s.

Tanatswa started off at Zengeza 4 primary school in his hometown before Lilfordia – a top boarding school in the farming district of Nyabira, 34-km north-west of Harare – presented the life-changing opportunity.

More doors continued to open from there, with the prestigious Falcon College in Matabeleland accepting Marumani for senior school.  

It was at Falcon, however, where Marumani first saw his aspirations go up in smoke. The gifted batsman was diagonised with septic arthritis in both hips, which is potentially career-ending.

But there was still some hope lingering that Marumani would regain a clean bill of health. It was never to be – a devastating experience for a young man of immense promise.

“I was told I would heal six months after surgery,” explains Marumani.

“It took me almost a year and a half to recover, as I had to start learning everything again like how to walk, and other things. So after more scans they found out it was now osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease. So when I got back on the field I just couldn’t play as well as I would have liked due to limited mobility in my hip. That meant I can’t play certain shots, which means I can’t play professionally. It was quite difficult for me as my dream was to play for my country alongside my brother. I’d been working really hard to achieve that but ja, it’s unfortunate I guess.”

Marumani has since turned to his other passion, using it to capture the stories of those still chasing their cricketing dreams.

Tanatswa Marumani, seen here at Old Georgians Sports Club a fortnight ago in the colours of Sogo Rangers, is the official photographer for the Harare-based club. His brother Tadiwanashe as well as fellow ex-Lilfordia learners Johnathan and Matthew Campbell play for the club.

“My hopes of playing professional cricket were kind of ruined, so fortunately I found ways to stay involved with the sport through media,” Marumani comments.

“So I’ve started a photography business which focuses mainly on sport, and I’m a hockey coach as well. I’ve just started, so I do both photography and videography. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos so when I found out that I can’t play cricket professionally, it was the next best option to stay involved. And that’s how I got to meet Andy again, I was taking photos at the game.”

While Tanatswa Marumani can no longer fulfil his dreams of playing in the World Cup, his photography skills may take him there.


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