National league roars into life

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THE time has come again for Emakhandeni Cricket Club to try and prove that they are not big fish in a small pond.

The much anticipated National League roars into life this weekend across the country and it is time for Emakhandeni to prove their strength outside Bulawayo Metropolitan Province where they have dominated in the recent past.

History will not favour the “boys from the hood”, as last year they won just one of their group matches and did not progress to the knock out stage. They will basically rely on the same team to take them past the group stages this time with not just the club, but the entire region at stake.

John Nyumbu, fresh from a highly successful Logan Cup season, will skipper the side that will blend youth and experienced players.

Nyumbu will hope to continue the form that saw him finish joint top wicket-taker into the National League.

He will have under his wing the usual suspects from the Tuskers side, Steve Chimamhiwa, Thabo Mboyi, Cunningham Ncube and hard-hitting all rounder Titus Chipare.

There are a couple of young players that debuted for Tuskers who should form an integral part of the team. Bruce Sibanda and Dalubuhle Mboyi need to step up and show that they deserve to rub shoulders with the very best the country has to offer.

The club will make use of the rules to bolster their side with franchise captain and national team all rounder Sean Williams.

Tuskers players Kevin Kandala and Nkosana Mpofu will add value to the side as they attempt to dethrone Harare Sports Club, champions in the country. Ironically HSC have not qualified from their league this year and neither has much fancied Takashinga who provide the bulk of the national side.

Queens Sports Club will take up the other slot on offer for the region. There could be a shock appearance of self exiled former national player Gregory Strydom. The club could neither deny nor confirm his availability.

If he does play he will add steel to what appears a fragile batting line-up. The competition provides the ideal opportunity for players like Mduduzi Fuzwayo to prove they are more than just local league players.

Fuzwayo feels harshly judged by the selectors and believes he deserves a chance in the first-class set up. Bonaparte Mujuru and Freedom Takarusenga, both below par in the franchise season, will have to bring their “A” game if Queens are to think about progression.

The one-form player they have is young Godwill Mahmiyo who was consistent without necessarily setting the world alight in the past season.

Chris Mpofu is likely to feature for Queens and needs to stop the slide that has led to him becoming the almost forgotten national player. Emakhandeni will travel to Mutare, while Queens will host Old Hararians in the season openers. On The Crease wishes both sides the best, do the region proud boys!

The competition in the past has been influenced by one player and it depends who the likes of Hamilton Masakadza turn out for. Harare has become the hive for cricket in Zimbabwe, fairly or otherwise, this is the perfect platform for the other centres to prove they are just as good if not better.

The teams are in two groups of four teams and will play each other once. The top teams at the end of the group stages will meet in the final.

  • Grant Flower has left his post as batting coach for the national side to take up a similar role with Pakistan. It is a sad loss for Zimbabwe Cricket as Flower, if nothing else brought hard work to the team.

    He could be seen giving thousands of throw downs in the nets everyday to try and get his batters right. Just last week I was speculating on his older brother Andy coming home to work with him in the national set up.

    Go well Grant, wish you all the success and appreciate everything you did for the country as a great player and coach.

  • It is my hope that one day you will return with even greater knowledge from your time with a top side like Pakistan to better assist our national team.

  • Zimbabwe Cricket has all but finalised the cost-cutting measures with new contracts offered to the remaining stuff. The biggest change is the abolishing of the franchise chief executive officer posts to be replaced by administrators. The franchises were also, on the recommendations of the International Cricket Council reduced to four with the Southern Rocks losing out.
  • This week’s letter is “X”. I have dreaded the day I will get to this. I don’t know too many words that begin with the letter X, let alone cricket terms.

    I will try going round it as representing the number 10; the maximum number of wickets that can fall in one innings. If you have another term please e-mail it me and I will feature it next week.