ZC to cut franchise league to four

MASVINGO - Cricket fans in Masvingo have hit out at Zimbabwe Cricket over reports of plans to disband the Southern Rocks franchise in a streamlining exercise aimed at tackling the association’s financial woes.

ZC has been reeling under a severe financial crisis which resulted in the local cricket governing body securing a $3 million loan from the ICC early last month to pay striking players and other staff who were owed sums of money.

And as part of cost-cutting measures, ZC is believed to be mulling reducing the number of domestic franchises sides from five to four, with Masvingo-based Southern Rocks the chief target.

The inception of first-class cricket in Masvingo has changed the social scene of the country’s oldest urban settlement, with matches there drawing the biggest crowds in Zimbabwean domestic cricket.

"We are very angry at reports doing the circles here that ZC wants to disband our only cricket club, Sothern Rocks. Why have they targeted Masvingo when other provinces are there and are not performing well?" said Tinashe Gon'ora from Mucheke high-density suburb.

Rumour doing the rounds in Masvingo is that ZC will make an official announcement soon.

ZC has since circulated a memo, dated March 24, to all franchises notifying of the move to restructure.

"The visit by the ICC CEO was pursuant to the ICC' s decision to work with ZC to reduce its existing cost and base and come up with a business plan which included, inter alia, reviewing the structure of the domestic cricket including the number of professional cricketers supported by ZC and the number of franchise,'' read part of the memo signed by Wilfred Mukondiwa the ZC Managing Director.

The memo further pointed that the Human Resources and Finance and Audit Committees met on March 21 and agreed to "to reduce the number of franchises from the current five to four.”

"Those guys are not serious at all. We do will mobilize and resist the move as cricket lovers," said Lillian Rwodzi from Rhodene.

Rocks, under the stewardship of Shepherd Makunura, have started the season on a bright note.

The franchise has also created a sound junior development programme in the town and introduced cricket to schools in the high-density areas.

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