Zimbabwe franchises announce new signings
With Zimbabwe's domestic season set to get underway on September 6, several franchises are finalising new contracts for coaches and players and it seems there will be several new faces - and the return of some old ones - when the season gets underway.
Midwest Rhinos have a new coach in Jason Gillespie, and are set to sign Nottinghamshire allrounder Paul Franks and Yorkshire's Zimbabwe-born batsman Gary Ballance. It is hoped that Franks will fill the role vacated by Mike Chinouya, who has left the Kwekwe-based franchise to join the Southern Rocks where he will be joined by Tatenda Taibu and Stuart Matsikenyeri.
"Ballance's experience will provide stability in the team's batting line-up and raise the quality of opening partnerships in the batting line-up, I was not too happy that we could not win any titles and we are not taking any chances this time around," said Kenyon Ziehl, Rhino's chief executive.
Ian Nicolson, a former Zimbabwe Under-19 seamer, has also been signed by the franchise, while allrounder Solomon Mire will be returning after spending the off-season playing club cricket in Australia.
Mashonaland Eagles have secured the coaching services of former South Africa allrounder and Northamptonshire captain Andrew Hall. Hall replaces Chris Silverwood, who coached Eagles to Logan Cup success in 2009-10 before returning to England to become Essex's bowling coach, in the role. He will be assisted by Grant Flower, who returns to Zimbabwe after six seasons with Essex and will be taking up a player/coach role at the franchise and the job of batting coach of the senior national side.
Eagles have also reportedly signed 6'7" Nottinghamshire fast bowler Charlie Shreck and South African-born Somerset batsman Nick Compton. "We had some challenges last season with our opening batsmen so we are consolidating that area," explained Hugo Ribatika, Eagles' chief executive. "We also saw the need to beef up our bowling and we think Shreck can do us a wonderful job. Those additions could put us in a steady position."
It also appears likely that Sean Ervine will be returning for another season of franchise cricket, while Glen Querl, a former Zimbabwe Under-19 player currently plying his trade with the Unicorns in England, is also set to return.