Young cricketers leave for Benoni festival

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Under-18 cricket team is set to leave this morning for the Eastern Junior Cricket Club Association (EJCCA) Festival in Benoni, South Africa.

Zimbabwe are using the festival to kick-start their preparations for next year’s Under- 19 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.

The young squad received a boost on Monday when they were presented with kit by Drum City. The kit included playing shirts, long bottom trousers, shorts and caps.

The squad is captained by left-hand opening batsman Eddie Byrom, who plays for Mashonaland Eagles, and includes just one player from Matabeleland, the wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Keefe from Falcon College.

Keefe came on board as a late replacement for the Lionel Mabika, who does not have a passport.

This will be the 10th anniversary of the EJCCA Festival in Benoni, where the team is expected to face icy winter conditions that will sorely test the young players’ mettle.

Two other Zimbabwean age group teams the Under-13 and Under-16 will also be present at the festival with the Under-18 squad playing their matches at the well-known Willowmoore Park complex in Benoni.

Denford Kumundati, the Zimbabwe Under-18 team manager, said the young cricketers will battle it out against seven other teams in Benoni.

“There are seven teams competing in the Under-18 section, including special dispensations for over-age national teams from Mozambique (Under-21) and Swaziland (Under-19) to line up against Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and three teams from hosts EJCCA,” Kumundati told the Daily News.

Zimbabwe Cricket development manager, Nick Singo, who is the tour’s chef-de-mission said: “This tour marks the start of preparations for the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in August 2015.”

Zimbabwe Under-18 Squad: E. Byrom (captain), T. Chiradza, R. Ngarava, K. Hopper, R. Magarira, B. Muzite, B. Evans, D. Murwendo, D. Vermaak, B. Mavhuta, L. Magwenzi, A. Keefe. Coach: Alois Tichana. Manager: Denford Kumundati.

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