Gladiators Cricket Club veteran star and coach Malcom Chikuwa is a happy man after he emerged as the best bowler from the inaugural National Premier League (NPL), which ended at the beginning of the month.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Chikuwa received the best bowler award at a ceremony on Wednesday last week after taking 23 wickets in eight matches including best figures of seven for 16 runs against Amakhosi.
Success may have taken long to come for the 31-year-old left arm spinner, who hails from Chitungwiza, after his performances earned him a place in the Eagles provisional squad a fortnight ago.
“It’s a good feeling, to be honest. I never thought it would go that well before the tournament began. “This award means a lot to me and for Gladiators Cricket Club as well as the Chitungwiza community,” Chikuwa said.
The NPL is a 45-over national club competition involving the nine top teams from across Zimbabwe which was unveiled by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) in September.
Gladiators finished sixth in the NPL and Chikuwa feels that it was a good performance for the team.
“I think it’s a good start for us considering that we have a young side and if we play two more NPL competitions we will be in a position to win the tournament, so I will say we are in the learning process.
“This competition was a brilliant idea by Zimbabwe Cricket. There are nine teams from all over Zimbabwe and if there is need to select a team, there is a big pool of players. The other good thing is that there is money so there is motivation for everyone to play,” Chikuwa said.
Chikuwa, who has been leading the development of young cricketers in Chitungwiza, believes the NPL is the best platform to showcase talent from the community.
“There is a lot of talent in Chitungwiza and at almost every school there is cricket. If we can have more, then there the future of Zimbabwean cricket is in Chitungwiza,” he said.
Chikuwa’s career dates back to 2011 when he started playing the sport at Dudzai Primary School as a Grade 5 boy.
Ronald Mutaramutswa was the coach at the school then.
Like every other young cricketer, Chikuwa had high hopes in the sport and dreamt about representing the country at the international stage.
But after excelling at Dudzai Primary, Chikuwa’s parents, who had been supportive of him in his early days, could not afford to send him to top cricket playing schools.
He could also not find a place at Seke High 1, the only school that played cricket, then and ended up enrolling at Seke 4.
It meant that he was not exposed to proper coaching for the next three years but only playing street cricket.
Chikuwa joined Gladiators when he was in Form 4, which was coached by Takudzwa Paya, who is now based in South Africa.
The club only competed in the Vigne Cup, which is a third-tier league in the province.
Gladiators got promoted in 2019 into the main league after winning the 2018/2019 second league Vigne Cup and finished second thus earning a place to play in the NPL.
“I have only played for one club throughout my career and only two weeks ago I got called into the provincial side the Eagles. All I want to do is to just fight to get into the bigger stage of the game,” he said.