World Cup mavericks: Eddo Brandes, the chicken farmer

Zimbabwe bowler and owner of one of cricket's greatest sledges

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3 Jan 1997: Eddo Brandes of Zimbabwe (right) gets Nick Knight out, first in his hat trick, during the third one day international between Zimbabwe and England in Harare, Zimbabwe. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/Allsport

Eddo Brandes had five ducks in his cricketing career; chickens served him better, though.

At a time when Zimbabwean cricketers often had full-time jobs to supplement their earnings from cricket, Brandes was a chicken farmer back home.

He later became a tomato farmer in Australia, but there is a lot in between.

Brandes was part of the Zimbabwean team for four World Cups.

In 1987, in his debut ODI, he got run out on zero and pulled a quad. 1992 was much kinder, with him winning the man of the match award for his 4-21 and 14 (24).

With Zimbabwe setting England a modest target of 135, most assumed that the second innings was a formality.

But in stepped Brandes, plucking four of the first five wickets, as he would feathers off his poultry.

He got Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and, his childhood buddy and former Zimbabwe cricketer, Graeme Hick.

He had bowled an unbroken spell of 10 overs; running after hens had built his stamina.

Ex-Zimbabwe fast bowler Eddo Brandes was unveilved as the coach of the Sunshine Coast Scorchers in Australia two years ago

He seemed to take a special liking to the English. In 1997, he took a fifer against them, including a hat-trick―the batters dismissed: Nick Knight, John Crawley and Nasser Hussain.

But perhaps the reason why cricket fans remember him the most is for his sharp retort to a Glenn McGrath sledge in a 1996 series in Colombo.

After failing to knock over the lower-order Brandes, a fuming McGrath apparently asked him, “Oi Brandes, why’re you so fat?” Pat came the reply: “Because every time I shag your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”

McGrath had been anything but hospitable to Brandes, but his country was.

After his time with the Zimbabwe team, he moved to Australia and started coaching the Sunshine Coast Cricket Club in Queensland.

“I’ve found that if you put in the effort to say ‘G’day’ to people, they react positively, and once they find out I used to play cricket, things happen quickly for me,” he wrote in a 2009 ESPNcricinfo article.

“Ian Healy (former Aussie wicketkeeper) was very kind, helping me with contacts in Brisbane and helping me find my feet.”

There, he turned from fowl to fruit, starting a tomato business. He produced around 50 tonnes a week for markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

But cricket was not out of his system. He was preparing to take on the likes of Carl Hooper and Jonty Rhodes for the over-50s World Cup (run by a nonprofit in Australia) in 2020, but the pandemic nixed those plans. No matter, there is an over-60s World Cup, too.

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