HomeSportThrills galore on domestic scene

Thrills galore on domestic scene

Enock Muchinjo

WHILE the Zimbabwe national cricket team has just started its off-season break, cricket on thedomestic scene has not stopped.

ns-serif”>Last week, the first of the three inter-provincial Under-19 tournaments was held at Old Hararians and Alexandra Sports Clubs in the capital. The tournaments are used to select the national Under-19 team to take part in the traditional end-of-year tour to South Africa and the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

This time, the inter-provincials are being held with the World Cup in mind. The bi-annual youth tournament is on early next year and Zimbabwe will enter the tournament as a seeded team after reaching the Super League stage in the last tournament in Bangladesh last year.

Last weekend, eight provincial Under-19 teams clashed at the two venues, hoping to provide players to the World Cup squad next year. The teams were Mashonaland 1, 2 and 3, Matabeleland 1 and 2, Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo.

Some of the outstanding players on the domestic front featured for the provincial teams. Mashonaland 1 had the likes of Chamunorwa Chibhabha, a reputable batsman who has already played first-class cricket, Prince Masvaure and Kyle Jarvis, who play national league cricket for Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe “A” fast bowler Ian Nicolson turned out for the Midlands alongside Zimbabwe Under-19 rugby player Roland Benade, who was also in camp with the rugby side preparing for the Under-19 World Cup.

The last two tournaments will be played later this year before the finalisation of the national Under-19 side, which is coached by Midlands mentor Walter Chawaguta.

Also last weekend, the Mashonaland PG Independence Cup entered its second week at Lord Malvern School. The Independence Cup is a new competition initiated to commemorate the country’s Independence day.

Several clubs from the four Mashonaland leagues are participating.

The tournament continues with the round robin matches at Alexandra and Old Hararians tomorrow and Sunday. The final will be played at Harare Sports Club on April 18.

The Logan Cup, the country’s premier knockout competition, resumes on Tuesday after a long break due to national team commitments. All fit national team players are supposed to play in this important competition which is used as the first level of selection criterion for the national team.

In matches starting Tuesday, Midlands take on Matabeleland at Kwekwe Sports Club, while defending champions Mashonaland travel to the Eastern Highlands to play Manicaland at Mutare Sports Club.

With most of the former dissenting players now back, the provinces will have strong squads for the first time this season and competition is expected to be a lot stiffer than in the previous rounds.Former national team captain Heath Streak’s return is likely to spur Matabeleland to a welcome victory in the Midlands. Streak leads a side that also boasts young paceman Christopher Mpofu and all-rounder Mluleki Nkala.

But the Midlands will be no pushovers as they will have in their side former captain and all-rounder Douglas Marillier, who had earlier retired from all forms of cricket.

In Mutare, Mashonaland will be hoping to return to their winning ways after going through the Faithwear limited-overs competition without a win.

Mashonaland have most of the national team players and on paper, Kevin Curran’s men should beat Manicaland. Players such as captain Tatenda Taibu, Barney Rogers and Douglas Hondo are the top players in the team. Former dissenting player, Stuart Carlisle, also plays for the province.

However, Manicaland have got capable players in pace bowler Allen Mwayenga and all-rounders Piet Rinke and Ryan Butterworth, who however have not played for the national team so far.

All in all, it all points to an exciting season of domestic competition.

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