HARARE – Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) hopes the establishment of the Rising Stars Academy will help turn around the fortunes of the national team in the future.
The academy, a brainchild of convener of selectors Tatenda Taibu, was launched in Harare at the weekend with the emerging group of cricketers set to tour the United Kingdom for the next six months.
Players between the ages of 14 and 19 have been drawn from all the country’s 10 provinces and some from even beyond the borders.
The players will be enrolled in the academy for the next five years and hopefully when they graduate, they would have been nurtured into national team players capable of competing on the Test arena.
ZC board chairperson Tavengwa Mukuhlani says this has been the missing link as far as development is concerned.
“I think in our view this has been the missing link. We have outlined our view so far as the pipeline of cricket is concerned in the country from the age group to the national team and the academy has been the only missing link thus far,” Mukuhlani told the Daily News on the side-lines of the launch.
“We have looked at how best we can do this and we have tried to come up with a unique way of doing it given our circumstances that are peculiar to us.
“So we have gone out to look for clubs in England where they will be attached so that they are playing cricket regularly, they are playing cricket in different conditions which we felt was the right approach as we said this is a five-year project.
“We hope to see about 80 players coming out of this at the end of five years which is a reasonable pool to look at out of that we expect to get a good number of boys to take to the field for Zimbabwe.”
The ZC boss heaped praises on Taibu, who was the first black Zimbabwe Test captain, for coming up with such an initiative which he believes will help unlock value in the strained ties between his organisation and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
England has not toured Zimbabwe since 2004 because the ECB feels Harare is not a safe destination.
“Armies and police forces are stronger because they recruit from within. You have never seen the army advertising for a position of a general or the police advertising for a position of a commissioner-general,” Mukuhlani said.
“Our strength lies from recruiting from the cricketers who have played for Zimbabwe; the Stuart Matsikenyeris, the Heath Streaks and your Brendon Taylors when they retire.
“That’s where our strength lies in and I believe he’s (Taibu) a great asset. He has come with the passion that I like; he has come with the sincerity that I look for and brought new ideas.
“He used his influence to establish this academy in the UK and I believe it should go a long way in trying to solve our long-standing strained relationship with the UK.”