Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has unveiled a new national club cricket competition, the National Premier League (NPL), which is set to get underway at grounds across the country this weekend.
The highly anticipated 45-over tournament will see Zimbabwe's top nine cricket clubs tussling it out in a scintillating 36-match tournament.
The teams participating in the inaugural NPL competition are Amakhosi, Queens, Takashinga, Rainbow, Gladiators, Harare Kings, Great Zimbabwe, MidWest and Easterns.
Launching the competition at an event held at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday, ZC Chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said it was important for his board to ensure Zimbabwe's cricket structures, including the club system, were healthy and vibrant.
"Cricket is not just about the national team . . . the future of ZC is premised on having a decent pipeline that produces proper cricketers and that is the reason why we have said after dealing with the elephant in the room - the financial issues of ZC - we needed to go back to the basics, to the grassroots to do the basic things," Mukuhlani said.
"The starting point is to have our club cricket back," he added.
"A strong club system fixes the problems at first-class level and when first-class cricket is fixed, there's no problem at national team level.
"The problem we have had over the years is we have been focusing on the national team . . . and not where the person in the national team is coming from."
The launch event also saw the unveiling of the NPL trophy as well as the participating clubs' playing uniforms.
The tournament is expected to be very competitive, with several Zimbabwe international players having been signed up by the clubs for the inaugural season.
"I'm really excited about what's about to happen and I'm really excited about what the future holds for us as Zimbabwe Cricket," ZC Director of Cricket Hamilton Masakadza said.
"This is an elite strength versus strength competiion at club level . . . so the clubs that have been at the top of their leagues at provincial level will be going head to head."
The NPL will get underway on Sunday, with MidWest hosting Takashinga at Kwekwe Sports Club in Kwekwe, while Great Zimbabwe and Harare Kings will face off at Mutare Sports Club in Mutare.
The first round will also see Queens and Amakhosi clashing in a Bulawayo derby set for Queens Sports Club, with Rainbow taking on Gladiators at Harare Sports Club in the capital city.