Of West Indies, mosquitoes and Dr Stamps

WEST Indies are expected to arrive in Zimbabwe next month for a full bilateral tour, and one of the local fans gleefully looking forward to the matches should be former Health minister Timothy Stamps.

By Enock Muchinjo

Welsh-born Stamps remembers tours by the men from the Caribbean to England before his emigration to pre-Independent Zimbabwe many years ago.

He has followed the fortunes of the one-time international glamour side, which ruthlessly dominated world cricket and never lost a Test series for 15 years since 1980.

“You know, in the past when international touring teams arrived in the West Indies they were warned of mosquitoes,” said Stamps after we met up at an international match in Harare.

“When the West Indies went to England, they were told, ‘we don’t have mosquito problems here, we have journalists!”

Stamps, now 80, has also served in his retirement as President Robert Mugabe’s personal health advisor. But for this particular international game at Harare Sports Club, the former Cabinet minister is watching from the crowd, not from the Chairman’s Enclosure, where invited VIPs are treated to the most expensive whiskey.

Late in 2001 Stamps suffered a stroke, which has affected his speech pattern, but clearly not his wit.

Stamps played lower level cricket as a young man in the UK, and is a big fan of the Zimbabwean team.

He describes himself as a “competent off-spinner in local club cricket in Newport, England,” where he trained as a doctor before emigrating to the then Southern Rhodesia. “I have followed Zimbabwean cricket since Independence in 1980, and I have to say (former Zimbabwe Cricket chairman) Peter Chingoka did a tremendous job to keep us in the top 10. Always at the bottom, but it is important to stay among the top 10 of world cricket.”

During the game, Stamps declared that the Zimbabwean team “will one day be the team to beat in world cricket”, naming quite a number of the side’s players as possessing unique qualities.

But he reserved special mention for Pakistan-born Sikandar Raza.

“I think he is a fantastic player. He comes from Pakistan. I’m also not born here, but Zimbabwean through and through.”

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