BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) has moved to allow 50 fans at the venues to watch the inaugural cricket competition, the National Premier League (NPL), which gets underway across the country today.
The cricket body launched the momentous 45-over tournament, which will see nine of the top clubs in the country competing for honours, last Wednesday.
Teams taking part in the potentially explosive US$10 000 championship are Amakhosi, Queens, Takashinga, Rainbow, Gladiators, Harare Kings, Great Zimbabwe, MidWest and Easterns.
And the involvement of spectators albeit under the observance of Covid-19 protocols is sure to add to the pomp and fanfare.
“After getting authorisation to resume playing cricket matches, Zimbabwe Cricket has undertaken to strictly comply with all regulations and policies relating to the prevention and containment of Covid-19,” ZC said in a statement.
“This means, as the National Premier League gets underway this Sunday [today], only a maximum of 50 spectators will be allowed to watch the action live at each venue in line with the provisions of Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020.
“The spectators will be required to observe the social distancing rule, wear face masks, submit to temperature checks on entry to the venue and, on such entry, have their hands sanitised.”
The competition is expected to spur the growth of cricket in the country and increase the selection pool for the national team.
“Other measures put in place by ZC include the regular disinfection and cleaning of cricket facilities, including changing rooms, toilets, spectator stands, offices, media centres, walkways and car parks.
“Players are also being provided with clear guidance on the safe management of the ball. Apart from the ban on the use of saliva on the ball, players are expected to regularly sanitise their hands when in contact with the ball and not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth after making contact with the ball,” said ZC.
There will be four matches across the country today 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.
At Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, Queens and Amakhosi lock horns in a local derby and the final match of the first round pits Rainbow against Gladiators at Harare Sports Club.
Easterns will play their first match of the competition against Takashinga on Wednesday in round two of fixtures.
The competition ends on November 1.