Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza could not hold back the tears when announcing to his players that Friday’s match against Afghanistan would be his last in internationals.
The 36-year-old was given a guard of honour by both sides as he came in to bat in Chittagong and then hit 71 off 42 balls to take Zimbabwe to an impressive seven-wicket victory – their first over Afghanistan – in the Twenty20 match.
Masakadza ended his 18-year international career with a blistering five sixes and four fours.
“Obviously it was super special. To lead the team to the win was really special,” he said late Friday.
Masakadza, who has played a key role in Zimbabwe’s faltering progress in international cricket since making his debut in 2001, acknowledged the emotions got the better of him before the game had even started.
“I started tearing a little bit in the morning trying to get through the team talk with the boys,” he said.
“I am not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve but I think this is the one thing that brought a few emotions out of me.
“Even when I tried to tell the guys and the team before I made the official announcement, I barely got through three sentences so it’s been a really emotional time for me,” he said.
Masakadza set a world record on his debut against the West Indies when he became the youngest Test century scorer at 17 years and 254 days. His record survived barely three months before being broken by Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ashraful.
He was also Zimbabwe’s first black player to score a first-class century.
Masakadza later took a three-year break in his international career to pursue studies, and returned with the national team in turmoil over player disputes with the national federation.
The troubles affected his career and he had to wait until 2011 to score his second Test century, against Bangladesh, after Zimbabwe ended a five-year self-exile from Test cricket.
Masakadza, who played 38 Tests, 209 one-day internationals and 66 T20 internationals said he was leaving with no bitterness.
“I have been going through a lot of emotions today, but regret is not one of them. I am really thankful, thankful to the board for giving me the chance to play as long as I have,” he said.
Friday’s game was Zimbabwe’s last in the three-nation series. Bangladesh will play Afghanistan in the final on Tuesday.