BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE’S cricketing talent drain to world cricket powerhouse England is set to continue after another promising rising star Eddie Byrom (pictured) expressed his desire to ditch the Chevrons and pursue his international cricket career with the reigning 50-over world champions.
The Southern African nation has in the past proved to be a consistent conveyer belt of cricketing talent for England.
Several cricketers and coaches, who trace their roots to Zimbabwe have gone on to excel in English cricket.
Names that quickly come to mind include Paul Parker, Graeme Hick, Gary Balance, the Curran brothers Sam and Tom as well as world-renowned coaches Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower.
Now the highly-rated 23-year-old left-handed opening batsman, who is on the books of English county side Somerset, could soon be joining the growing list of players with Zimbabwean links to play for England.
Byrom has established himself as one of the brightest prospects on the English cricket scene, impressing with his technique and aggressive style of batting across all three formats of the game.
The young star, who has in the past featured for Zimbabwe’s junior national teams as well as the now-defunct franchise Rising Stars, qualifies to play for both the Chevrons and England through birth and ancestry respectively.
He, however, ended the speculation surrounding his future after revealing that although he appreciates how Zimbabwe played a role in his early development, his goal is to play for England.
“It’s a very simple answer. I really want to play for England. Zimbabwe was great for me, I’m very thankful for all my coaches and people that worked with me there, but I have really committed to wanting to play for England for quite some time now. “That is the route I am committing to and working towards,” Byrom revealed.
“Growing up in Zimbabwe was really interesting. Cricket-wise it was great, such a sunny country. I really enjoyed starting out my cricket there, but it got to a stage where I didn’t really see myself going professional, so I didn’t really want to stay there for too long and I made the move to Somerset.”
The son of former Zimbabwean sports journalist Glen Byrom, the gifted cricketer was born in Harare and attended St John’s College, one of the top private schools in the capital.
He featured prominently for Zimbabwe’s age group teams between 2011 and 2015.
After initially moving to Kings College on a cricket scholarship, Byrom graduated at the Somerset academy in 2016.
He then broke into the Somerset first team for the County Championship in 2017 where he excelled while opening the batting alongside Somerset and England great Marcus Trescothick.
He has not looked back since then and last year he was rewarded with a new contract after impressing in the T20 Blast, a competition in which he scored 185 runs at a strike-rate of 196.81 including a half-century on debut against Surrey.
Byrom also reflected on his stint on the domestic cricket scene three years ago when he featured for Rising Stars, an academy that was run by former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu.
He has in the past attributed the exposure he gained during his stint in the Logan Cup for the good run of form he went on to enjoy during the 2018 season.
“It was really good. Before I went out there I was deliberating where I should go play cricket that winter, maybe back to New Zealand where I’d played before, but an opportunity came about where I could go back there and play first-class cricket, which I thought would be a good opportunity to get some more games under my belt,” Byrom said.
“I really enjoyed it, everyone was under the age of 23, it was all players trying to make their way in the game that were promising players. It was a good group to work with and our coach was an ex-international player [Zimbabwe’s Stuart Matsikenyeri] so I really enjoyed it out there, I felt that I got a huge amount from it.”