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Promising young Zimbabwean players provided with opportunities to develop at cricket academies

The past decade has witnessed the emergence on the world cricket scene of cricket academies where talented young players' skills are honed under the watchful eyes of past test and first-class players.  

In this article we focus on three such academies where a number of our most-promising and talented youngsters have been given the opportunity to attend.  

 

THE COMMONWEALTH BANK CRICKET ACADEMY  

First and foremost of these "Cricketing Universities" is the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy situated in Adelaide, South Australia.  

Established ten years ago, the C.B.C.A. is probably the best known of all its counterparts elsewhere in the world, and has certainly had its fair share of success.  

The highly successful Australian team, which has recently retained the Ashes in England, had no less than seven of its players who attended the C.B.C.A. - Michael Slater, Greg Blewett, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Glen McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Ricky Ponting.  

Through the considerable generosity of the Australian High Commission and Qantas Airways Limited, Henry Olonga and Dirk Viljoen have both been afforded the wonderful opportunity of attending the C.B.C.A.  

Not surprisingly, both these young cricketers have commented in glowing terms on their experiences. Of his three-week course Henry Olonga talked about the excellence of the organisation that underpinned the course; the high-energy and low-fat diet that characterised the meals; the emphasis on correct bowling techniques which keeps injuries to a minimum; batting; captaincy; sports psychology and even swimming! A highlight for Henry was the fast-bowling tuition provided by the legendary Dennis Lillee.  

Dirk Viljoen, who attended the course in May/June this year was equally impressed with all the facilities and quality of the coaching he received at the Academy.  

His programme was equally as comprehensive as was Henry's, who attended in 1996, and apart from the cricketing aspects, included weight training, boxing and specialised exercise routines. Public-speaking development is also included in the programme. A point of interest mentioned by Dirk was that whereas visiting players such as himself spent just under a month at the Academy, Australian youngsters were there for a full nine months!  

 

THE M.R.F. PACE FOUNDATION  

The M.R.F. Pace Foundation situated in Madras, India, focuses, as its name suggests, on fast bowling. Zimbabwean players who have attended are Bryan Strang, Darlington Matambanadzo, Henry Olonga, Bernard Pswarayi and Mpumelelo Mbangwa. David Mutendera and Nyasha Chari attended the Academy during March 1997.

The Academy is run by a former Indian Test player - T.A. Sekar - and Dennis Lillee lends his considerable expertise as a visiting coach. Without exception all the Zimbabwean players have been unstinting in their praise of the learning experience to which they were exposed. The diet is invariably strict, and much emphasis is placed on warming-up exercises. The regimen includes weight training, swimming and athletics.

 

THE PLASCON CRICKET ACADEMY  

The Plascon Cricket Academy was established in 1995, and its Director is that well-known ex-South African Test star, Clive Rice. Situated near Johannesburg where it offers a five-month course, which has been set up to develop not only the players' skills in batting, bowling and fielding, but also places due emphasis on elements of the young cricketers' careers that are peripheral to the sport. There are lectures on a diverse range of subjects which include psychology, public speaking, dealing with the media, and banking and insurance.  

The course includes plyometrics (strengthening of the legs), vision training, sprint and gymnasium work.  

Players are accommodated at the Academy, and their meals are planned to provide the correct nutritional inputs that hardworking athletes require to sustain peak performance.  

The United Cricket Board of South Africa's Chief Executive, Dr Ali Bacher, who is also the current chairman of the International Cricket Conference's Development Committee, has, since the opening of the Academy, invited promising young players from the Region to take up places on the course.  

Mpumelelo Mbangwa was our first attendee and has said that he derived great benefit from the five-month course he attended in 1996. Henry Olonga is in residence at the present time.  

In the final analysis there is no doubt that the Z.C.U. has left no stone unturned in ensuring that its promising young players have been provided with exceptional opportunities in developing their talents - it is now up to them to actualise the potential they all undoubtedly possess.

 


 

Date-stamped : 03 Jul1999 - 14:46