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It is the end of an era. By mutual consent, after a 27-year partnership Bakers will no longer be sponsoring the Bakers Mini Cricket programme after its contract with Cricket South Africa expires in June.
The programme is the longest running developmental sports programme in South Africa. Over 100,000 primary school children from over 5,000 schools take part in the programme annually, and it was the starting point for some of the country’s most famous cricketers, including Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini.
The brainchild of Ali Bacher, who was managing director of the South African Cricket Union at the time, the progamme was designed to bring together young children of all races to play cricket together in a structured environment that promoted racial harmony and healthy relationships.
“It is with much regret that CSA announces that the contract with National Brands Limited, through its brand, Bakers Biscuits, will not be renewed this year,” said Gerald Majola, Cricket South Africa’s chief executive. "Over many years, we have together pioneered the way for children, boys and girls, from all communities to gain entry into the game through Bakers Mini Cricket.
“There has been an accelerated growth of cricket in South Africa and CSA wants to harness this growth in terms of our strategic plan for South African cricket in the future," he added. “The expansion of the game, with mini cricket at the heart, is essential to this strategic plan. Consequently, we have secured a long-term partnership with a major international brand to assist with mini cricket in this regard and an announcement will be forthcoming soon.
“History will record the critical role that Bakers has played in developing South African cricket to this point, and CSA will always be grateful for this.”