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Churchill seek to recapture glory days

“Churchill Boys High School in Harare is becoming to Zimbabwean Test cricket what Eton College once was to British Prime Ministers,” declared the world’s leading cricket website, cricinfo.com 16 years ago in reference to the school’s apparently unending stream of talented cricketers.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Then, seam bowler Douglas Hondo had become Churchill’s third Test debutant in as many matches, following in the footsteps of Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza after earning his first Test cap against South Africa on September 7 2001.

Since then, Churchill — one of the most successful high school cricket teams — has gone on to produce some of the country’s talented players like Prosper Utseya, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Chamu Chibhabha and Elton Chigumbura just to mention a few.

Former Zimbabwe first-class cricketer Johnson Marumisa is also one of the finest players to come out of Churchill High School, although national team selection continuously eluded him throughout his career until a lucky break in Zimbabwe’s squad for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007.

The 36-year-old, who is now in his second season as head coach, of Churchill’s cricket side is confident that the Harare-based boys’ school can rediscover their past glory days when they used to dominate local schools’ cricket and consistently contribute players into the national team.

Marumisa led Churchill to the CABS St George’s College Twenty20 title last Sunday in Harare to end the dominance by South African schools, who had won all the last five editions of the competition.

Churchill prevailed after a nerve-wrecking final in which they edged a determined Falcon College side by a single run.
Falcon, who are coached by former Zimbabwe international Gavin Ewing, won the toss and was elected to field before restricting Churchill to a meagre 95 for seven in their allotted 20 overs.

But in a dramatic climax to the match, the Falcon College batsmen crumbled under pressure as they failed to reach the total after they could only get one run from the last delivery, needing three runs to win, or at least two to draw the match and take the final into a super over.

Marumisa was pleased with his team’s triumph, which he said was the first step towards regaining their place as the top team in domestic schools cricket.

“I’m very happy that we managed to win this year’s title, given the quality of our preparations prior to the CABS T20 tournament. Before the tournament we were in camp for 20 days and played very competitive matches against some of the clubs who compete in the Vigne Cup,” Marumisa told Sports World in an interview last week.

“I am a Churchill old boy and when I joined Churchill from Hellenic Academy last year, my goal was to make sure that the cricket team reclaims its place as one of the top teams.

“Hopefully, this win is the first step towards bringing back the glory days when we used to consistently produce top players, who went on to represent the national team,” he said.

Starting their campaign in Group C of the 12-team competition, Churchill beat Peterhouse by eight wickets, lost to St Benedicts by three runs before registering an 86-run win over Hellenic Academy.

In the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs were pitted against archrivals Prince Edward School, who had won in Group B.

Churchill won the quarterfinal by seven wickets after chasing down an imposing target 149 runs before knocking out St Georges by seven wickets in the semifinals after restricting the hosts to 78 all-out.

The icing on the cake for Churchill was the selection of wicketkeeper batsman Clive Madande for a scholarship to attend South Africa’s St Charles.

Madande will be joining Zimbabwe Under-19 spinner Wesley Madhevere, who was also given a scholarship by the same school last year.

Meanwhile, Churchill will be seeking to continue their dominance of local schoolboy cricket when they take part in this year’s edition of the St John’s Rams T20 cricket tournament from September 22-24 at St Johns College.

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