HARTMANN House and St George’s College will be a hive of activity this week as they play host to the 2017 edition of the annual Stanbic Stragglers Junior Cricket Week, which gets underway today running through to Friday.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
The week-long festival is open to budding cricket players from grades 4 to 7.
In a statement on their official website, the tournament organisers said all was set for this year’s edition of the highly-anticipated festival, which brings together young cricketers from different backgrounds for a week of the game.
“The week is organised for all enthusiastic young cricketers between the ages of nine and 12 and is held once a year during the August school holidays. It incorporates children from all walks of life and such is its reputation. The youngsters plan their school holidays to keep that Cricket Week free,” the organisers said.
“The grades 4 and 5 cricketers play in the morning and the Grade 6 and 7s in the afternoon. The players are placed into teams named after cricketing countries — Zimbabwe, West Indies, India, England, Australia, and Sri Lanka to name a few. Each country challenges a different country every day during the week in limited over matches. All cricketers are rotated and every player has a chance to bat and bow.”
“Certificates are awarded to achieving cricketers. Notable players in the senior ranks played in our cricket week as school boys and make a point of coming along to share their skills and experience with the current crop of enthusiasts.
“Every year, teams from development areas are included on a rotational basis to give as many children as possible an opportunity to play during the holidays and have some fine-tuning of their skills through coaching. In recent years, we have had the privilege of Stanbic Bank sponsoring the week.”
Having been started more than 60 years ago by Spencer Parker, a local architect, the Stragglers junior cricket development festival has grown into one of the country’s prime junior cricket development programmes.
Last year’s edition of the Stanbic Stragglers Junior Cricket Week featured over 300 budding junior cricketers aged between nine and 12 and saw teams from cricket development areas such as Mabvuku, Highfield, Glen View, Shamva, Bindura and Chitungwiza participating alongside children from various other schools.
Zimbabwe national cricket team captain Graeme Cremer attended the event last year to inspire the next generation of Zimbabwean cricketers.
Zimbabwe opener Hamilton Masakadza was part of the High Glen development side team whose members were drawn from Highfield, Glen View and Glen Norah in the late 1990s.
Masakadza, just like most of his colleagues in the national team, participated in the festival when he was in Grade 6 and 7.
“As a cricketer, I believe your development is largely dependent on the opposition you face. Stragglers provided very good and strong opposition from different parts of the country, which was very challenging and helped us improve and develop faster,” says Masakadza.
“It also gave us an opportunity to play on grass wickets as well and helped us learn that additional skill as opposed to the artificial concrete wickets we were brought up on.
“Stragglers is an integral part in the development of every young cricketer.”