In a bid to revive a club system that has become crippled with inactivity, Zimbabwe Cricket have announced a Premier League, but not of the twenty-over variety like many other countries.
The Zimbabwe Premier League (ZPL) will be a forty-over competition involving eight clubs and will be played as a conventional league, with no final, and a winner declared after seven rounds.
The bulk of the teams come from Zimbabwe’s two main cricketing centres, Harare and Bulawayo. Takashinga Cricket Club, famed for being the breeding ground of some of Zimbabwe’s most notable players, including Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, will have two teams called Patriots 1 and Patriots 2, while Rainbow are the club from the capital.
Bulawayo’s metro and northern areas will be represented by the Amakhosi and Inkatha teams respectively, and Masvingo’s Southern Lions make up the other stand-alone side.
Manicaland and Mashonaland East will have one team between them, the Eastern Lions, while Mashonaland West and Midlands will play as the Muzvezve Tigers.
The league kicks off this Saturday and will continue through Zimbabwe’s Tests against New Zealand in Bulawayo and beyond, as a precursor to the summer.
All players not featuring in the internationals but who are part of the national and domestic set-up in Zimbabwe are expected to take part in this competition, which ZC is hoping to use to increase the player pool and grow depth.
“The ZPL is a very important competition involving Zimbabwe’s top clubs fighting it out for the national honours,” Givemore Makoni, ZC’s head of cricket affairs, said. “It’s top-notch cricket with all national team players not in the
Test side expected to turn out for clubs in the league.
This means youngsters will get the chance to play with and against experienced international players, which will quickly bring them through.”
Apart from the ZPL, Zimbabwe’s domestic structures continue to include first-class, fifty-over and twenty-over competitions.