This morning I was scheduled to write about Essex County Cricket Club, but I then I thought I would take a break from County Cricket for a day and explore some of the other domestic cricket competitions taking place right now: in Banglandesh, in India, in New Zealand, in Pakistan, in South Africa, in Zimbabwe…it seems the entire Southern Hemisphere is alive with cricket. (Missing from that list is Australia, but it looks as though The Sheffield Shield returns on 2 December, the Ryobi One-Day Cup on 7 December, and of course, the BIG BASH LEAGUE ramps up on 16 December.) Plus, writing about a County might not seem like it, but it is a time consuming effort, and I could use a quick morning post.
So let’s chat about Zimbabwe’s Stanbic Bank 20 Series instead.
It is a short competition, lasting only from the 25th of November through the 4th of December, barely a week. It features five clubs, the same five clubs that I discussed in my post on Zimbabwe’s other domestic competition, The Castle Logan Cup.
Each club plays each other club once, with the top four teams advancing to a knock out stage. (Yeah, 80% of the teams make the playoffs, that’s almost a higher percentage than the NHL has.) The knockout stage is single elimination, two semi-finals and a final.
This year, the competition features several international players of note: Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes, Ryan ten Doeschate, and of course the enigmatic Chris Gayle.
Gayle plays for the Matabeleland Tuskers, and his squad has already played their four matches, winning three and losing one, and has advanced to the knockout stages. The Mountaineers and the Mid West Rhinos have also advanced, so the last spot is left for the Southern Rocks and the Mashonaland Eagles (ten Doeschate’s squad) to fight over. The former has two points to the latter’s none, but the Eagles have a match in hand.
The semi-finals are on Friday and the final on Sunday. As I have previously mentioned, the matches are available live on Willow.tv, and the final is actually on at a not too ungodly hour: 6am CST. Will I watch?? We will see.
The Zimbabwean Cricket Association is bullish on the tournament, and sees it as a chance for ZC to show the ICC that cricket is growing exponentially in their country. Big crowds are expected this weekend at the finals, as it is a school holiday.
Now, I am no big fan of Twenty20 (especially at the international level) but for cricket to grow, in my opinion, domestic competitions in lesser nations, not just test nations but in all Associate member nations, competitions such as the Stanbic Bank 20 Series, need to succeed and thrive. I really believe these tournaments will feed test cricket, which is what we all want, at the end of the day.
Of course, like most folks, I hate the idea of the best international players flying all over the world to play in 15 different domestic tournaments a year, but that might have to be the catalyst which helps these domestic leagues grow. I point to Major League Soccer and their “designated player” rule, which has seemingly worked quite well.
So, here’s hoping nothing but success for the Stanbic Bank 20 Series.
Until next time.