Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
Zimbabwe Cricket has announced their first privately-owned franchise league, a T10 tournament, which has been established with Mulk International - the founding company of the Abu Dhabi T10. The six-team tournament is slated to take place in March 2023 and will be called the Zim Afro T10. The Abu Dhabi T10 has been played since 2017 and has just completed its sixth season.
"We are pleased to announce the introduction of Zimbabwe's own franchise-based T10 league, a powerful format that we believe is exactly what our changing, fast-paced world needs right now," Tavengwa Mukuhlani, ZC Chairman, said.
ZC is hopeful that the tournament will attract top players from around the world, more than a decade after they last dipped their toes into attracting big names with the Stanbic T20. The competition boasted 20 foreign names, including Chris Gayle and Shaun Tait, across Zimbabwe's five domestic teams and had a headline sponsor but was owned and run by ZC. It was played for three seasons before Stanbic pulled out and since then Zimbabwe's domestic competitions have been played without much fanfare, and sometimes not at all.
In a country wracked by economic woes, Zimbabwean Cricket has not been exempt and the game has lurched through a massive debt crisis, a temporary ban on its administration at the ICC and some of its biggest name players (Heath Streak and Brendan Taylor) banned for their involvement in corruption. But, the sport seems to be finding its feet after Zimbabwe's men's team made it to the Super 12s of the most recent T20 World Cup and their women's team only narrowly missed out on qualifying for the T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2023.
With more international fixtures on the horizon, Zimbabwe are also looking to dabble into the lucrative league structure and with neighbours South Africa launching an all-owned IPL T20 league, the SA20, they have entered the T10 market. The participating franchises, player auction dates, fixtures and other details will be announced at a later date, with the tournament scheduled to begin on March 29, 2023.