Zimbabwe’s leading junior cricket development programme, the Stragglers Junior Cricket Week, kicks off on Monday after a two-year Covid-19-induced absence.
Stanbic Bank sponsors the week-long event in which budding cricketers between ages 9 to 12 from different socio-economic backgrounds rub shoulders in a well-planned cricket experience.
The budding cricketers are put through their paces by seasoned cricketers including players from the national cricket team and the country’s leading coaches.
Hosted at Hartmann House and St George’s College, the event is held every August School holidays as a way to give the young cricketers a breather after the rigours of school during the just-ended second term.
Stanbic Bank head brand and marketing, Palmer Mugavha said it felt good that Stragglers is back after the two-year break and all stakeholders were raring to go.
“We started sponsoring Stragglers in 2006 and have not looked back since, so it was disheartening to have had this unforeseen but necessary break due to COVID 19. We are now good to go again and Stanbic Bank is keen to play its part in nurturing cricket talent again,” said Mugavha.
He said Stanbic Bank sponsors stragglers as a part of the Standard Bank Group subsidiary’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives whereby it ploughs back into the communities in which it operates.
The well-structured CSR strategy covers sports, health, education, the environment and sanitation.
Beneficiaries of these initiatives include young people hence the Stragglers Cricket week was a key programme where young cricket enthusiasts learn the ropes for a full week under the tutelage of some of the country’s best cricket brains.
“We take pride in the fact that some of the country’s best cricket players such as former Zimbabwe National Team wicket-keeper and batsman PJ Moor, Opener, Hamilton Masakadza, Middle-order batsman, Craig Ervine and former captain and all-rounder Elton Chigumbura are all products of Stragglers junior development. This alone has spurred Stanbic Bank to continue to play a key role in propping up grassroots cricket and this augurs well for the future of the sport,” said Mugavha.
The week sees over 300 children from all walks of life playing limited overs cricket.
Children from high-density areas get to showcase their talents against those from the elite schools during this popular week-long Cricket Week.
Teams from cricket 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. The development sides will include young cricket players from Mabvuku, Highfield, Glen View, Glen View, Mash Central and Chitungwiza participating.
The grade 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 overs matches. All cricketers are rotated and every player has a chance to bat and bowl. Certificates are awarded to high-achieving cricketers.
Stragglers Cricket week was started more than 60 years ago by Spencer Parker, a local architect, and it has grown in leaps and bounds, producing some of the country’s finest cricket players along the way.