Last weekend (4-6 December 2015) St George’s College hosted the colorful U13 cricket Partridges XI Tournament, a fantastic effort at primary school cricket development throughout Zimbabwe. The three-day tournament includes eight select teams of U13 boys: Easterns, Harare Development, Harare North, Harare South, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland and South-East Districts which includes players from the Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces. Fawcett Security and DevBrands sponsored the tournament.
The Partridges XI could arguably be one of the oldest national fixtures in the history of Zimbabwean cricket. Started with six teams who played at Prince Edward School in 1954, it was then known as the Fawn XI and was designed to teach and prepare primary school students for secondary school cricket. In the 1960’s the winning team from the Fawn XI was invited to play in South Africa, when the name Partridges was coined and stuck to this day, 61 years after its humble beginnings. In the late 1980’s primary school Headmasters rejected the idea of inter-provincial primary school cricket fixtures during the academic year, and Partridges was moved to be in early December, after the closure of the school term.
The rules of the Partridges XI Tournament are deliberately designed to be inclusive and promote the development of the sport for all participating players. In an effort to include as much playing time as possible for the participating boys, the Partridges includes 12 matches. The tournament rules stipulate that every player on a team must be used in every game and the player who sits out as the 12th man in the first innings has to play in the second innings.
If a match ends leaving more than three hours of daylight play left in the day, the tournament organizers have the right to call for another shorter match so that other players who didn’t feature in the first match can have time on the pitch. And, if the side batting first is bowled out before their allotted overs, the side batting second are given the remaining overs.
Each of the eight teams played a match on each of the three days of the tournament, with four matches per day. The winners from Friday played each other on Saturday, with Fridays’ losers playing each other as well. Again, the winners of the Saturday matches played Saturday winners and Saturday’s losers against losers on Sunday so that the matches became progressively more evenly matched.
The Most Notable Individual Performance award went to Alistair Conolly who had 7 wickets for 11 runs. The Best All Rounder was Edmos Dube-Mabeza who scored 131 runs and five wickets for 65 runs. Most Wickets went to James Gau with nine wickets for 66 runs, and the Most Runs went to Nicolas Zinawa with 181 runs. At the end of the tournament, selectors chose a Partridges XI select team. That team’s first match will be against Zimbabwe’s U14 as part of their preparation for a tour to South Africa.