The Independent reports that the clus that recently broke away from the Mashonaland and Matabeleland provincial associations have announced the creation of a new national cricket league, which will also include some clubs from other provinces. The involved teams are: Old Hararians, Harare Sports Club, Alexandra, Old Georgians and Universals from Mashonaland; Queens, Bulawayo Sports Club, Bulawayo Athletics Club and Crescent from Matabeleland; Mashonaland and Matabeleland Country Districts sides and Midlands' Kwekwe Sports Club.
Details of the league's organisation and admin structure are to be finalised in the next few weeks. Those involved are reported to have notified the ICC of their intentions and the reasons behind it, but will have taken little comfort from the outcome of this week's ICC Executive meeting.
The developing situation brings to mind the current position in the US, where the ICC-recognised national body, the USACA, is mired in internal problems and doing little to promote the game, while the independent Major League Cricket organisation is doing all the footwork with little or no recognition from the powers that be. It's a damaging situation for both coutries, but as long as the official governing bodies aren't forced to face up to their failings, the position is unlikely to improve.
Cricket clubs form splinter league
Following the example set by Mashonaland clubs earlier in the year, a number of senior clubs in Matabeleland have quit the provincial association in protest at continuing ZC mismanagement. The clubs are reportedly holding talks with clubs in Mashonaland to decide how to proceed from here. Their action leaves ZC managing a cricket infrastructure with essentially no quality teams - and with the ICC having taken responsibility for deciding if or when Zimbabwe can return to playing Test cricket, you have to wonder if it will now happen at all.
CricInfo have a comment piece on this latest dispute that's worth a look.
Crumbling from the bottom up
This year's Logan Cup first-class tournament has been postponed indefinitely, and may not take place at all. Fixture congestion is one reason given, with Kenya's upcoming tour and a possible visit to Bangladesh both timed to coincide with the Logan Cup dates, buit it seems playing standards in the recent Faithwear one-day series may also be a factor. Logan Cup games are scheduled for 4 days each, but after the one-day series there are doubts that many games would last that long - and the last thing Zimbabwe needs at the moment is another display of poor-quality cricket...
Matabeleland tied up this year Faithwear inter-provincial one-day series on Sunday after an 8-wicket win over Masvingo. This year's tournament was a lacklustre affair, with Mashonaland's internal problems leading to them fielding an under-strength side, and low scores all round.
Next up is the 4-day Logan Cup series. The first round of matches begins on February 14th, when Mashonaland play Matabeleland in Harare and Midlands meets Masvingo in Kwe Kwe.
CricInfo reports continuing strife within the Mashonaland Cricket Association, with current chairman Cyprian Mandenge and Bruce Makovah, a provincial and national selector, reportedly interrupting a game on Saturday and threatening the players. The pair reportedly
"arrived at Harare Sports Club with two policemen and, according to witnesses, made threats to the players' safety if they did not stop the match immediately. They are also accused of racially abusing certain players, and of telling others that they would never play for the province again."
Six clubs (Harare Sport Club, Old Hararians, Alexandra, Old Georgians, Takashinga, and Universals) were reportedly expelled from the MCA on Friday evening in retaliation for last weekend's Vinge Cup 'strike'. These clubs between them represent the majority of Zimbabwe's international players.
Top Officials Threaten Players
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, former MCA Chairman Tavengwa Mukhulani claims he was 'hounded out' of his post and bemoans the continued political maneuverings in the game:
"There is a lot of politics in the province. At some point, you feel that you need to move on and contribute in some other way. I had a long discussion with the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman (Peter Chingoka) and at the end he accepted that I was doing the right thing."
CricInfo reports that there was no play in the Mashonaland Vigne Cup this weekend, as the teams involved refused to play:
"The opening weekend of the Mashonaland Vigne Cup, Zimbabwe's oldest club competition, was scrapped as the clubs sought to highlight their unhappiness with Zimbabwe Cricket's running of the game in general, and what they claim to be its interference with the Mashonaland Cricket Association in particular."
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
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
CricInfo reports on the Mashonaland Cricket Association's AGM. Tavengwa Mukuhlani was re-elected chairman for a second year, despite concerns over the absence of an audited financial report for the association.
There has been quite a bit of tension between the MCA and ZC over the past year.