Durban - Recently retired Proteas and Dolphins bowler star Mthokozisi Shezi has warned fellow cricketers to plan properly for life after sport.
Shezi’s retirement was confirmed last week and to many it came as a huge shock as the Pietermaritzburg-born player is only 31-years-old.
He signed his first professional cricket contract at the age of 21 and retired at the same time as Proteas legend and team-mate, Morné van Wyk.
Van Wyk turned 40 last month and his retirement was widely expected after a long, illustrious career that included playing in the Indian Premier League and Pakistan Super League.
Shezi played a single ODI for the Proteas against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 2014 in a match South Africa won by seven wickets. Shezi's bowling figures on the day read 6-2-8-1.
Shezi, who is from Imbali township, told The Witness that his retirement was more about securing his future than anything else.
“I think what encouraged me to retire now is that I saw a friend of mine I used to play cricket with who had absolutely nothing to fall on after his playing days were over. It was so sad because he had a wife and children that he needed to take care of,” said Shezi.
“So, I was like ‘no ways I’m going to be like that’ and I told myself that I needed to start studying. I did that (studying) and last year I got an opportunity to work at RCL Foods off-season only.”
Shezi’s part-time position with the food company was turned into a permanent post and the bowler sat down with a sports psychologist for some guidance.
“He was like ‘Shezi, it’s a no-brainer. If you have a good opportunity at work, go work because now you are setting yourself for 30 years’. I agreed with him,” he said.
Shezi - who has played for the Proteas, SA 'A' and SA U19 - is a strategic sourcing analyst at RCL.
“I’d rather retire early with a great plan to fall back on than end up pushing to retire late and I’ve got no plan after cricket.
“As amazing as cricket is, when you retire it’s not like anyone says ‘you were amazing, come I will give you a job or come I will give this much amount of money’; no, it’s cheers, goodbye, you were amazing, and two years later no one remembers that you even played.
“While I was still at the top, I thought let me call it with a good heart, not with a sad heart.”
Shezi has a degree in sports psychology, a BCom degree and he is studying further.