Zim cricket looking up with Twenty20

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When the first Stanbic Bank Twenty20 competition opens in Harare on Friday it will involve five local franchise teams and the Namibia national cricket team.

To add to the excitement the organisers have invited experienced cricket players from England and Australia.

Oliver ‘Ollie’ Rayner, who plays for Sussex in the English County League, is set to play after agreeing to join Mid-West Rhinos, one of the local franchise sides taking part in the competition.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and this is a part of my game I really want to develop,” Rayner told Cricinfo, the largest cricket related website in the world.

”Branching out into all forms of cricket is where I want to go and I think I have the potential to make a name for myself in Twenty20 cricket. It is a chance I want to take up and hopefully I will come back and hit the season running.”

Mid-West Rhinos CEO Kenyon Zieihl said: ”Yes he (Rayner) has joined us in preparation for the tournament and we are looking at having him back for next season’s edition of the Logan Cup.”

“His arrival has definitely given us a boost and we hope he will jell in with our other potential match winners who include Vusi Sibanda, Rikki Wessels, Brandon Taylor and many others in our camp,” said Zieihl.

Zieihl said he was happy with the interest shown by foreign players to play for Zimbabwean franchise teams.

“It’s a huge boost for Zimbabwean cricket and you can see the results, for the first time all the matches will be televised live on SuperSport (DSTV) and other stations in countries like India, which will market the local game,” said Zieihl.

“Our local players will gain the much needed exposure,” he added.

Rayner joins another County League player and Proteas’ hopeful, Rikki Wessels son of Australia and Proteas legend Kepler Wessels, who has been playing for the Mid-west Rhinos since the start of the Logan Cup.

Zieihl was still hopeful of signing another player from the County League, but did not mention any names.

”We are in the process of negotiating with representatives from a County team called Kent.”

The Twenty20 competition will give Zimbabwe a positive boost in its efforts to regain its international Test status. It will also provide valuable test match practice for the national team, which departs for the West Indies on the 22nd of February.