THE “Little School in the Bush”, as Lilfordia Primary School fondly calls itself, has charming countryside settings for a place just 40km outside Harare.
Lilfordia prides itself in its personal touch, serene environment and above all, its rich sporting heritage.
The Campbell family has run the school admirably for many years, in fact for a huge chunk of its 109-year history.
The current headmaster, Donald Campbell, was once seen as heir apparent to Andy Flower behind the stumps for
Zimbabwe’s cricket team before Tatenda Taibu came into the picture to take over from the legendary former wicketkeeper.
Donald’s father, Iain Campbell, is the previous headmaster — a cricket enthusiast credited with the early development of current star Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor at Lilfordia.
His older brother, Alistair Campbell, is a former Zimbabwe captain who led the team through one of its best periods of the post-Test status era.
The older Campbell, Taylor, Malcolm Waller and Trevor Madondo, who all passed through Lilfordia, went on to play cricket for Zimbabwe.
Sport is a very important part of the school’s culture and it is befitting that Eddo Brandes, the great former Zimbabwe fast bowler, will speak there at a function on December 4, dubbed “An Evening With Eddo Brandes.”
Brandes, who now lives in New Zealand, played 10 Test matches and 59 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 1987 and 1999 — on many of those occasions as the country’s premier bowler.
Nicknamed the “Chicken Farmer” because he was actually one when not playing cricket, Brandes is famous for his hat-trick against England in 1997, and twice bowling the African side twice to victory over the touring English in that same ODI series.
“It is one of my regrets, that I wasn’t able to devote more time to cricket — what if, what type of a player could I have been? That was frustrating. In that period, I developed a terrible Achilles tendon injury, and we tried cortisones, everything,” Brandes told New Zealand cricket writer Devon Mace in a 2016 interview.
Brandes went on to tell Mace about how it was, in those days, playing cricket in Zimbabwe as amateurs.
“When I left university, I would put out that I was looking for a job for about three-or-four months from late 1985 to tide me over until we went to England again in ’86,” said Brandes.
“A member of the cricket club, who became a friend of mine, he took me on. I eventually stayed with him for seven years, becoming a director of his company — that’s just how I was, you just go boots and all and get stuck into whatever you do.
“All along I was always discussing with him that I wanted to go into business on my own at some stage. We looked at and discussed different things — which was quite unique, to be able to discuss with your boss. Quite a few ventures he said ‘no that wouldn’t be a good idea,’ and then the farm became available and I took that on.”
With cricket in Zimbabwe back then operating on a shoe-string budget, it meant Brandes never became a professional cricketer throughout his career.
He told Mace: “At that stage, we had only one professional cricketer. By the end of 1992 we had another three professional cricketers. The first was Dave Houghton, and then Andy Flower, Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell.
Then, about ‘93, I approached the board and I said, ‘look, this is getting pretty exciting, this Test cricket and all that. I’d like to become a professional cricketer’.
“At that stage, if they had said yes, I was going to sell my farm — even though I’d just purchased it — and then focus full-time. But they said no, at this stage we’ve just taken on another three professionals, we can’t afford it, and in the next wave they intimated that I was on the wrong side of age, I was about 28 or 29 then.”
Guests at the Lilfordia event, which has a charge, will have a chance of listening in-depth, next month, the story of one of world cricket’s most recognised amateur cricketers.