By Enock Muchinjo
TAKASHINGA Cricket Club has come of age and currently represents the new culture of cricket that is emerging from the high-density suburbs.
, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The Highfield-based outfit dominated the just-ended season in club cricket, winning the Mashonaland PG Timbers Vigne Cup First and Second League championships.
Their club’s first team, Takashinga 1 finished in pole position out of eight clubs in the First League becoming the first high-density club to clinch a major championship.
The previous season Takashinga were pipped to the then National League Championship by Mutare Sports Club but redeemed themselves to overcome their rivals in the league knockout final for their maiden silverware.
The national league was however scrapped at the beginning of the 2003-04 season due to logistical problems.
Takashinga Club, formerly known as Old Winstonians because of its association with Churchill Boys High School, has witnessed unprecedented growth over the past three years of its eight-year existence. It has become the largest cricket club in the country.
Takashinga provides personnel in all the structures of the game from administration, coaching and umpiring. The club’s player pool, which is the largest in the country, has seen it fielding four teams in the Mashonaland leagues.
Takashinga 2 plays in the First League where they finished second from bottom. The third team won the second league title and gained promotion into the first league to effectively fill up the void left by the relegated Takashinga 2.
Takashinga 4 is currently lying fourth in the fourth league that is still to complete the 2003-04 season.
However, it was Takashinga 1 who were the toast of the season, shrugging off tough challenges from five established clubs in a race that went all the way to the wire. Out of the 14 games, Takashinga 1 won 10, drew one and lost three. Only three points separated the league victors from runners-up Old Hararians.
The Zimbabwe A captain Alester Maregwede who is also the vice-captain at Takashinga 1 said everyone at the club was thrilled with the success.
“We believe we could have actually won more convincingly. It was a very positive thing to win the league,” Maregwede said. “It means a lot to the guys. We all worked hard for this and tribute must go to our coach Stephen Mangongo who really got the team to work hard. He made us realise what’s at stake.”
Even more remarkable about Takashinga’s success was the depth they exhibited. For most of the season they had to do without star players Tatenda Taibu, Stuart Matsikanyeri and Vusimuzi Sibanda who were engaged in national team commitments for the larger part of the season.
The team was further depleted at the crucial stage of the season recently when five key players went away to the ICC Junior World Cup in Bangladesh with the national Under 19 side.
Some of the club’s outstanding players for the season include skipper Norbert Manyande and reliable strike bowler Amos Maungwa.
Takashinga’s home ground in Highfield which opened to international first class cricket during the tour by West Indies last October has transformed itself into a breeding ground for talent that is set to continue etching a mark on the international scene.