Franchises hunt Williams ahead of new season

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The country’s top franchises were until on Tuesday still after the signature of the talented former Matabeleland Tuskers player Sean Williams ahead of the start of the new domestic cricket season.

The season gets underway on Saturday with a one-day competition; won by the Masvingo based Franchise Southern Rocks which was then known as the MetBank Pro40 Championship.

However as the teams brace up for the weekend matches, the major debate within the cricket circles has been on the future of the 24-year-old left-handed middle order batsman.

Williams, who at one time had indicated that he was quitting cricket for club hockey in South Africa, had fuelled the speculation that he was on his way to Mashonaland Eagles after a post he made on the social networking site Facebook.

“Mash eagles here I come. . .” read a post on his wall last Wednesday fueling speculation that he had dumped the Tuskers’ sky blue strip for the Eagles’ orange jersey.

However, the new Mashonaland Eagles coach Kevin Curran told NewsDay Sport yesterday that they had given up hope of securing his signature.

“We were interested in securing his (Williams) services for the new season, but the negotiations have broken down and I can confirm that he won’t be joining us anymore.

“However, I can confirm that Stuart Matsikenyeri, Sikander Raza and Elton Chigumbura have joined us for the new season which is a massive boost for our team. We have been working hard for the past six weeks and the players are looking forward to a better performance this season,” said Curran.

Mashonaland Eagles open their campaign with a tricky away assignment against Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club.

Rocks, according to the franchise’s chief executive Givemore Makoni, have also concluded the acquisition of the pace duo of Tinashe Panyangara and Taurai Muzarabani.

There was still a possibility that Williams could also be heading for Masvingo, but Makoni said he could only shed light on the confirmed acquisitions.

“I can confirm that Tinashe Panyangara and Taurai Muzarabani have joined us from Mountaineers and Mid West Rhinos respectively, but we are still in negotiations with other potential signings which we will be concluded tomorrow (today),” said Makoni.

While Rocks have retained the likes of Brian Vitori, Tatenda Taibu and Chamu Chibhabha, other players like Matsikenyeri, Chigumbura, Steven Marillier and surprisingly Craig Ervine have left.

Tuskers’ chief executive Stanley Staddon confirmed they had reached an agreement with Ervine.

“The only player who has left us is Sean Williams and as far as I know he hasn’t signed for any other franchise yet, but I’m happy to say that we have reached an agreement with Craig Ervine.

“We are confident that he will be a valuable asset for us. I’m also happy to announce that Englishman Paul Horton is rejoining us for the new season and will be available for the weekend game. I’m still in negotiations with some other overseas players which I will not mention now as we are still in talks,” said

Horton, who was Tuskers’ leading run scorer in the Logan Cup, helped Lancashire County Cricket Club shake a 77-year-old monkey off their backs after taking the county cricket championship title for the first time since 1934.

Tuskers, who will be under the guidance of Dave Houghton again this season, begin their campaign away to Mountaineers.

The two teams will meet in the limited overs match before engaging in the Logan Cup competition starting on Monday.

Kwekwe-based Mid West Rhinos have a bye in the opening round of fixtures and only open their campaign away to Southern Rocks on October 8.