By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket on Tuesday launched the National Premier League, an eight-team club competition which they hope will create a pathway for talented cricketers to impress and earn national team honours.
The inaugural National Premier League will see the country’s nine top clubs, Amakhosi (formerly Emakhandeni Cricket Club), Queens Sports Club, Midwest, Takashinga, Great Zimbabwe, Kings, Rainbow, Gladiators and Eastern competing in a tournament whose winners will walk away with US$10 000.
The launch of the tournament has been hailed as a major step towards the revival of the country’s once vibrant club cricket structures which used to act as a feeder to the provincial structures and ultimately the national teams.
Zimbabwe Cricket had planned to have the tournament in winter but it could not take place because of measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The government, through the Sports and Recreation Commission, has now given ZC the green light to have the club competition take place, with the clearance coming at the same time as the permission for the senior men’s team to tour Pakistan.
Speaking during the official launch of the competition, Zimbabwe Cricket board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said he was excited with the National Premier League and encouraged all stakeholders to support the initiative.
The launch of the tournament comes at a time Zimbabwe Cricket was targeting to breathe new life into domestic cricket structures, having managed to nearly pay off its legacy debts amounting to US$27 million.
“I want to congratulate Hamilton Masakadza, the director of cricket for the work that he has done with the team to bring this into fruition,” Mukuhlani said.
“We would have wanted to do this back in the year but because of the Covid-19 situation, we couldn’t do that but there’s no time lost.
“We have had more time to prepare and get ourselves in good standing and allow ourselves to launch this National Premier League today.
“I’m calling to all cricket loving people to support this cause and all those that will have an opportunity to play for any club that they will play for to do it with all the energy and grace that is required so that we see a new breed of athletes.”
He added: “We will see new cricketers coming through. That should be the mark of cricket development in the country and we should see it sun professionally and selection must be done without bias.
“We want to see everyone getting a chance to be looked at by the selectors. I believe this is the best we can do for selectors to have an opportunity to watch the talent that we have.”
The National Premier League is expected to give national cricketers an opportunity to get more game time ahead of the tour of Pakistan.
The Chevrons are in camp preparing for the three one-day international (ODI) matches and as many Twenty-20 international (T20I) games.
The ODI series is part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League and will be held on October 30 and November 1 and 3.
The T20 matches are scheduled for November 7, 8 and 10.
Sunday: Midwest vs Takashinga (Kwekwe Sports Club), Great Zimbabwe vs Harare Kings (Masvingo Sports Club), Rainbow vs Gladiators (Harare Sports Club), Queens vs Amakhosi (Queens Sports Club), Easterns (Bye)