THE Zimbabwe national team will now take a bit of a break after tours by New Zealand and India.
At about the same ti
me, domestic cricket gets into full swing beginning next week, with a full Mashonaland Vigne Cup Leagues programme. There are four leagues in Mashonaland – the largest and most active first-class province in the country.
There will also be action in the southern region that has Bulawayo as the main centre, and in the other provinces.
However, it is in Mashonaland where competition will be the toughest.
Mashonaland have their own selection panel that picks players to represent the province in the Logan Cup. That tournament is the country’s premier knock-out domestic competition. It is used as the first level criterion for selecting players for senior national teams.
That set-up means that even the players with first-class and international caps under their belts have to put up fine performances to get a berth at provincial level from which they can keep in close sight of national selectors.
In the schedule released by the Mashonaland Cricket Association this week, all four leagues play two rounds of 50-overs cricket (World Cup rules), up until the end of January next year. On completion of the First League games, the top four teams then go to a Play-Offs Knock-Out competition.
The final is set for February 5, 2006.
The 20-20 Independence Knock Out competition, has also been retained as an annual event.
Eight teams – defending champions Old Hararians, Harare Sports Club, Old Georgians, Alexandra, Takashinga, Uprising and promoted Old Malvernians, formerly known as Lords – make up the Mashonaland Vigne Cup First League.
The lower leagues, the Third and Fourth Leagues, have a visible blend of development and established sides. Clubs such as Kuwadzana, Mabvuku and Ruwa will mingle with the likes of third-string sides from Old Georgians and Alexandra Sports Clubs.
The drive for the sides in the lower leagues is to gain promotion into the top leagues where there is more exposure to provincial, first-class, and international selection.
There is a growing pool of players in Zimbabwe from the club scene.