The Sunday Mail has news of the new format for the national cricket league, to be introduced by Zimbabwe Cricket this season. Intended to improve the standard of competition, the new league will only include the top teams from each province (3 from Mashonaland, 2 from Matabeleland and one each from Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo) and will run during April 2006. The league will be split into two pools, with the top two teams from each pool going forward to the semi-finals.
Zim Cricket Introduces New Concept to Game
According to the Trinidad & Tobago Express, former Zim coach has joined the chorus of criticism for the way Zimbabwe Cricket are running the game, also claiming that his dismissal was more down to politics than anything else and was done in a way contrary to the boards' constitution:
"But that is how it is when you deal with people who have no understanding of cricket, of being a coach or even being in the dressing-room."
Former bowler Henry Olonga also added his comments on Simmond's dismissal:
"Things haven't gone well for a number of years, so it isn't that Phil has messed up. They (ZC) demand very high standards from a team that can't give them that."
CricInfo reports that Craig Wishart has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, citing disillunsionment with the way the game is being run in Zimbabwe as the main reason:
"It's a hard decision, but I can safely confirm that I have retired from all forms of cricket. Yes, I was offered a contract but I was not happy with it, and to be honest, I was just tired of Zimbabwe cricket, the fighting, and everything. I think we are under a lot of pressure. If we do not sort out things now we might destroy everything that we have built and there will be no cricket for youngsters in the future for coming through the system."
Trevor Gripper, meanwhile, has also had harsh words for Zimbabwe Cricket:
"These guys have never done what they say they will do. We are told that if you score runs and take wickets you'll get selected, but I doubt if that is going to happen. I am happy to play club cricket, and I'm willing to offer my advice if anyone wants it, and help out the youngsters at the club. But the reality of the situation is that club cricket is in a terrible state. First-class is a joke. Standards have gone down."
The Independent has picked up on the theme of Sunday's article in The Standard suggesting overseas play may be the key to getting Zimbabwe's cricketers the experience they so badly need. Their suggestion is a return to playing in South Africa's provincial tournaments, including the Currie Cup, as was done prior to independence:
"While these frequent tours to South Africa at junior level have noticeably benefited Zimbabwe, the country now needs to be readmitted at a more senior level like in the past, in order to harvest immediate success with the national teams. Therein, playing constantly in South Africa or with South African sides gives players incentive to continue staying in Zimbabwe, added the commercial aspect and wider media exposure that comes with it."
CricInfo has an interview with Zimbabwe Cricket's Managing Director, Ozias Bvute, which makes for interesting reading. While it's typically evasive in some places, the current contract dispute is touched upon with the indication being that ZC are open to negotiation. Aked if the players had been consulted before the new contract were produced, Bvute replied:
"Yes. We have been in consultation with the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers' Association since June this year. Notwithstanding that, you will appreciate that in contractual negotiations it is not unusual for one side to present a proposal, a draft contract, as the first step in the negotiation process.">
ZC have been busy arranging some matches for the long gap between the end of India's visit and the tour to the West Indies. Kenya are due in the country between October 10th and 21st, for two 3-day matches and one 1-day game. Dates are to be confirmed.
In October, Zimbabwe A travel to India to take part in the Duleep Trophy, an inter-provincial 4-day competition that has recently taken to including a foreign A side to help their development. Finally, the Afro-Asian A tournament has been pencilled in for January 2006 and will take place in Bangladesh.
Dates will be added to the Fixtures page as they become available.
The Standard carries an opinion piece suggesting that the standard of domestic cricket in Zimbabwe plays a large part in the woes of the national team, and suggests that helping more players get experience overseas could be the solution:
"There is no doubting there is raw talent in Zimbabwe but with the current trend, it will always remain in that crude state. Sending players for overseas cricket would not mean that ZC has failed, but will actually show that the body has a vision, it has a roadmap and sound management capable of coming-up with a team that will not disgrace the nation come 2007 when the West Indies host the next ICC Cricket World Cup."
A look at how the Flower brothers and Sean Ervine have flourished with their English county team would suggest they have a point.
ZC Should Send Players for Careers Abroad
The Herald has an interview with Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu, in which he talks about the team's recent performances in Test matches since they returned to the long version of the game in January:
"There has been noticeable progress in certain areas of the game but collectively we have not improved and I am not happy with the way things have been going. The improvement has been in bits and pieces and most disappointing is the fact that it has been the young players who have been doing well while the seniors have not been doing well. If both the young players and the seniors had been playing well then we would have fared far much better."
The Zimbabwe Independent has a preview of the upcoming domestic season in Zimbabwe, with an emphasis on the Mashonaland provincial leagues.
Action Back on Domestic Scene
Mark Vermuelen has approached Zimbabwe Cricket to ask them to reconsider their decision not to offer him a national team contract.
"I still want to play. I was given no reason why I was not given a contract. I think I have done my best for Zimbabwe to make at least the performance-based list. I have the highest average in first-class cricket and have more than 4000 first-class runs. At the moment I'm training with the Academy and practising in the gym. We have club cricket starting next week, but I need an income, and if I do not get paid playing cricket, I would have to look at something else."
ZC General Manager Ozias Bvute has reportedly told Vermuelen that although it wouldn't be his decision, he would:
"take the necessary measures."