ZC axes Rising Stars

HARARE - Rising Stars have been denied a chance to defend their domestic Pro50 Championship title after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) reverted back to a four-team franchise system for the 2018/2019 calendar.

The youthful outfit comprising national team players Tarisai Musakanda, Ryan Burl, Richard Ngarava, Brendan Mavuta and ex-international Blessing Muzarabani trounced an experienced Mountaineers side by 144 runs to lift the title last season in their debut appearance in the competition.

Rising Stars was the brainchild of former Zimbabwe Test captain and convener of selectors, Tatenda Taibu.

After a six-month stint in Liverpool, England where they trained and played against high-quality opposition, Rising Stars returned to Zimbabwe and become the fifth side in the domestic franchise cricket.

In the premier competition, the Logan Cup, Rising Stars failed to make a big impact as they finished the season in fifth place with only a single win from eight matches.

However, they atoned for that disappointment in the longer version by stunning Mountaineers in the limited overs competition final.

Batsmen Tony Munyonga (65), Burl (62) and Musakanda (51) stole the limelight as Rising Stars reached a total of 289 for nine after 50 overs.

Leg-spinner Mavuta then stifled the Mountaineers’ chase with figures of eight for 38 to leave the Manicaland-based side all out for 137.

ZC media and communications manager, Darlington Majonga confirmed that Rising Stars will no longer be part of the 2018-19 season.

“In light of its restructuring exercise based on its new strategic plan, ZC has reverted to the franchise system, with the Harare Metropolitan and Mashonaland Central provinces being paired to compete as Eagles,” Majonga said.

“Bulawayo Metropolitan, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces have been combined to make up the Tuskers franchise.

“The two provinces of Midlands and Mashonaland West have been reunited under the Rhinos banner, while the fourth franchise, Mountaineers, is composed of Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East.

“Emerging players who made up the national academy side Rising Stars that went on to win last season’s one-day championship will be absorbed into the four franchises this time round.”

The new domestic cricket season will commence on December 1.

“The List A competition, the Pro50 Championship, will get the season underway on 1 December, with Eagles hosting Tuskers at Harare Sports Club, while Rhinos will be at home to Mountaineers at Kwekwe Sports Club,” Majonga added.

“Two days later, the first-class contest, the Logan Cup, will begin with the same teams facing each other at the same venues. After two rounds of both competitions, the franchises will go for the Christmas break and return to action on 12 January.

“Mountaineers will host their home matches at Mutare Sports Club, while Tuskers will play theirs at Queens Sports Club. A Twenty20 tournament scheduled for March will bring the curtain down on the 2018-19 season.”

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