| Tatenda Taibu during practice in Perth on Thursday. (AFP)
Perth: Tiny though he is in stature, Zimbabwe vice-captain Tatenda Taibu looks set to make a big mark on the two-Test series against world champions Australia next month.
Taibu — scaling fractionally more than five feet — is an athletic wicketkeeper with an outgoing personality that is sure to please Australian crowds.
“I would say I am a middle-order batsman and a bubbly wicketkeeper with a lot to say,” Taibu, 20, said of himself Thursday as the Zimbabwe team had their first major workout of the tour at the WACA Ground, where the first Test starts October 9.
“I don’t really say much to the batsmen — I just support my bowlers and fielders,” said the youngster nicknamed ‘Tibbly’.
The last thing he wants to do after appearing in only eight Tests is needle the powerful Australian batting line-up. “I will certainly not be looking to get involved in a verbal war with them,” he said.
“I will especially show lots of respect to Australian captain Steve Waugh. I have heard much about him, so I will just keep quiet,” he said.
A multi-talented sportsman, first picked for Zimbabwe at the age of 16, Taibu has lost both parents and taken over much of the responsibility for bringing up six brothers and sisters.
His talent was noticed at a young age when he was awarded a scholarship by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU), and he caught the eye of astute observers in Zimbabwe’s strong performances in this year’s World Cup one-day contest.
Taibu played an impeccable straight bat to questions about his country’s political troubles.
“Playing a sport like cricket and the professionalism involved with the sport, I have to forget about whatever is happening back in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“I just have to concentrate on what I have got in hand, which is playing cricket for my country. The best thing I can do for my people is to play good cricket.
“I know if I play cricket well, I am representing a lot of people back home, and that is great.”