In a few weeks’ time, young cricket hopefuls will be convening at St Georges and Hartman House as the Stragglers Junior Cricket week storms to life. 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. Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe is the main sponsor of the event which is organized by Stragglers Cricket Club.
In the word of Stragglers Cricket Club, “Over half a century ago a few enthusiastic cricketers took it upon themselves to spread their knowledge of cricket by taking a team to the rural areas for a game. They felt however that not only adults should be involved and decided to make cricket for the young people their focus Junior Stragglers Cricket Week was born! The week is organised for all enthusiastic young cricketers between the ages of 9 and 12 and is held once a year in 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 event incorporates young cricket players from different developmental areas who are passionate about the gentlemen’s game. The development teams include players from Mabvuku, Highfield, Glen View, Shamva, Bindura and Chitungwiza and they all look forward to the tournament every year.
Young players require strong mentorship and Stragglers Junior Cricket creates a platform for the young boys to receive guidance from coaches, former and current professional players of the game. Teams from cricket development areas are included on a rotational basis to give as many children as possible an opportunity to play during the tournament and afford them the opportunity to be mentored by different coaches to improve on their skills.
Over 300 children from all walks of life also get a chance to receive cricketing tips from players in the Zimbabwe National Cricket Team. Graham Creamer and some of the national team members graced the 2017 edition of the Straggler tournament to inspire and motivate the young players who were thrilled to see their role models in the flesh.
It is at such events young talent is moulded and the commitment and mentorship of the national team is greatly appreciated. The importance of Stragglers Cricket week in junior cricket development cannot be overlooked because 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.
Friendships and Teamwork
All the participating players are placed into teams named after cricketing countries such as Zimbabwe, West Indies, India, England, Australia, Sri Lanka etc. Each country challenges a different country every day during the week in limited overs matches and all cricketers are rotated to allow every player a chance to bat and bowl. The young cricketers get to learn a lot about teamwork and new friendships are born, which is always an added bonus.