HOW would you picture the life of a former international cricketer? Probably nurturing the next generation of cricketers, commentating, working for a cricket board as an administrator or simply enjoying retirement away from the hassle of formal employment?
Well, the life of former Zimbabwe cricket team fast bowler player Waddington Mwayenga is a far cry from all this.
Mwayenga, who played one Test and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in a brief international career between 2002 and 2006, is pursuing a new career path as a bus driver in Melbourne, Australia.
The 36-year-old Zimbabwean is one of the three former international cricketers currently employed by the Melbourne-based bus company known as Transdev together with former Sri Lanka players Suraj Randiv and Chinthaka Jayasinghe.
The three cricketers play for local cricket clubs in Australia, but have had to take to other careers to survive Down Under.
Mwayenga is a father of two children: a three-year-old son and daughter born in 2019. After having his first child in 2017, he was attracted to a career at Transdev because he wanted a flexible job to help his wife raise the family.
"I love it, it's very flexible and you meet some amazing people," Mwayenga said recently in an interview with the Australian TV station Channel 9 News.
Transdev Melbourne managing director Ian Craig told the company's official website transdevmelbourne.com.au, Mwayenga is part of a team of over 1 200 bus drivers from diverse ethnic and career backgrounds who are part of their crew.
"We have a huge diversity of professional backgrounds, among our [more] than 1 200 bus drivers," Craig explained.
"Next time you get on the bus you may be driven by a former cricketer, a former pastry chef, or a former social worker just to name a few examples.
"Despite the diversity of backgrounds, our drivers share a united passion for customer service and ensuring we continue to provide Victorians with a safe, reliable and comfortable journey," he said.
Mwayenga and Randiv, who was a part of Sri Lanka's playing 11 in the 2011 World Cup final, were recruited via Transdev's Journey Maker Academy, an initiative developed to help people from outside the transport industry to become bus drivers, the company explains.
The programme is particularly targeted at people with car licences and strong customer service backgrounds, who are supported in gaining a heavy vehicle licence required to drive a bus, it adds.
Since 2018, Transdev Melbourne has recruited 200 bus drivers via its Journey Maker Academy programme; it also offers dedicated recruitment programmes for experienced bus and truck drivers, it says.
Jayasinghe, who played five T20Is for Sri Lanka between 2009 and 2010, was recruited through the Bus-to-Bus programme, which helps experienced bus drivers transition into a new role via a tailored training programme -- including driving evaluation and tailored training in customer service, Transdev states.
In 2020, Transdev recruited a number of experienced drivers from the tourism industry due to the impact of Covid-19, it explains.
While playing cricket and driving a bus may seem worlds apart, the drivers say they draw on traits such as patience, teamwork and discipline developed during their professional sporting careers in their current bus driving roles as they help Victorians get to where they need to go.
Mwayenga, who has been with Transdev for more than a year, is based at the Thomastown depot in Melbourne, Victoria.
The former Zimbabwe international cricketer, who became an Australian citizen in 2014, worked for Cricket Australia for 10 years as multicultural programmes officer, promoting and developing cricket in newly-arrived immigrant communities.
Additionally, Mwayenga also plays for Youlden Parkville Cricket Club in Victoria, where he has starred as a player and coach since 2008, winning several individual and team accolades along the way.
Harare-born Mwayenga was a promising right-arm pace bowler whose potential was recognised at a young age, but never fully managed to fulfil the early promise in his international career.
His father was a groundsman at St John's College in Harare, and it was while hanging around there with his older brother Allan (a left-arm seamer) that the legendary development coach Bill Flower, father of Andy and Grant, discovered his potential and arranged for a cricket scholarship for both boys to Vainona High School, and later St John's itself.
He represented Zimbabwe at age group levels and in the Under-19 World Cup of 2002, where he took five for 21 in the match against Kenya.
He had a traumatic ODI debut against a strong Pakistan team and struggled against India on his Test debut almost three years later.
As a 20-year-old, Mwayenga also played against his now adopted country Australia in an ODI at Harare Sports Club in 2004.
He took a catch to remove the legendary wicketkeeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist and claimed the prized wicket of the Aussie skipper Ricky Pointing off his own bowling, although the tourists comfortably won the match by 139 runs.
"A baptism of fire I guess, just being a 20-year-old playing against people of Michael Clarke's calibre," he said of the experience."