Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
In light of its restructuring exercise based on the new ICC-backed strategic plan, Zimbabwe Cricket has announced a revamped domestic format with an abridged first-class season and the dismantling of the national academy side Rising Stars.
Created to give emerging players and Under-19 cricketers a pathway to the national side, Rising Stars won the Pro50 domestic tournament last season and helped nurture players such as Brandon Mavuta, Ryan Burl, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava. Players from the team will be absorbed into the four remaining franchises: Eagles, Tuskers, Rhinos and Mountaineers.
Domestic cricket in Zimbabwe was sidelined for several months by the country's hosting of the World Cup Qualifiers last season, and this time around the only significant break will be for Christmas.
The domestic calendar will begin with the opening round of Pro50 games on December 1, followed by the first Logan Cup matches on December 3. There will be six rounds in both the one-day and four-day competitions, while the season will close with a T20 competition held over a week from March 11 to 16.
ZC's latest reshuffle is a result of the lifeline offered to them by the ICC after the annual conference in Dublin earlier this year. The ICC board "agreed to a package of measures" that have allowed ZC to start paying its debts while still receiving funding "on a controlled basis". The ICC also offered to work with ZC "to develop a plan for managing its cricketing, management and financial structures which will be reviewed on an ongoing basis".
As a result of the drip-feeding of funding, ZC also retrenched several staff members and reviewed all player contracts in August. At the time, ZC committed to starting the domestic season in November with a skeleton staff. December has now been confirmed as the start date.