The Zimbabwe Cricket National Premier League (NPL) held a ceremony to honor outstanding players and teams on its forth edition which ended recently, with Takashinga Patriots 1 as the reigning champions.
The Gladiators, which held the tittle last year were dethroned by 3 wickets in the 45-over tournament. The ceremony was held on Saturday at the Harare Sports Club where the winning team and those who performed exceptionally were presented with awards and prices.
In an interview with State of the Nation News, tournament director Wonder Chisango said the league was very competitive, as it had 14 teams from all over the country.
“We had 14 teams playing in the tournament, 5 from Harare, 2 from Mutare,3 from Bulawayo, 1 from Kadoma, 1 from Kwekwe, 1 from Gwanda and 1 from Masvingo. The aim was to improve competitiveness at club level. All the 10 provinces active have got a club league so we wanted to step further to bridge the gap between first-class cricket and club cricket. That was our main concept for the NPL this year.
”The tournament ran for six weeks, from the 8th of August to the 20th of September. We simultaneously did a cricket tour around Zimbabwe. There was a team from as far as Gwanda. This came as a result of the effort to make cricket a nationwide sport, “ he said.
Three individuals stood out in the tournament and were awarded for their outstanding performances. Tapiwa Mufudza won Bowler of the Tournament after getting 30 wickets this year,
“To be honest the performance aspect wasn’t that difficult considering the momentum that I had last season so I had to keep on pushing with the same energy. My preparations for this season are to continue doing what I do best performing well and taking wickets,” said Mufudza.
The player of the tournament tittle was won by Timycen Maruma, who reached 555 runs.
“Firstly, I want to thank God, my teammates and fans. It’s such a good thing to be receiving such recognition within your own country. It boosts morale and confidence in what you do and pushes you to keep playing. I mean this is what we play for, this is what we leave home to come and do. As for the injury, I’m still undergoing treatment so it is up to the physiotherapist to decide when I’ll be fit again to play. Although I’m hurt, I won’t be able to start the T20 but I pray before it ends that I will be fit enough to play.”
The award for best coach of the tournament went to coach Eric Chauluka who was awarded for showing immense dedication and hard work for his team.
” I would like to thank the guys in maroon and green. They did a fantastic job and obviously having the old guard in the team Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha and Tymcen Maruma well done guys. Having lost our brother Takaz 2 we knew we had to pull up our socks and start working even harder to bring the trophy home and after losing to Mutare the motivation was self-set. I’m so excited about the T20 Blast I am proud to say the guys will keep up the performance until we win, I promise them fireworks. Having the old guard in the squad brings experience and wisdom and helping hands also for tactics and game plan,” he said.
“ We still have NPLT20 Blast which is also a club tournament, but it is for the top 8 from the 45-over tournament including the provincial teams which is Eagles, Tuskers, Mountaineers, Rocks and Mid Rhinos. Definitely, the senior crop will be seen prominently in the T20 Blast starting tomorrow and the first game is at Takashinga Sports Club with other grounds such as Old Hararians, Mutare Sports Club and Masvingo Sports Club,” he said.
The award ceremony was officiated the Vice Chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket Sylvester Machaka, Chairman of the Harare Metropolitan Cricket Association Tafadzwa Madhoro, and Hamilton Masakadza who is Director for Zimbabwe Cricket.