The Mbombela Premier League (MPL) was recently founded by several Lowveld-based cricket clubs.
The interest shown by stakeholders in the region has been phenomenal, resulting in seven teams participating in the inaugural season. “We have received an interest from several other teams, but due to a lack of available cricket fields in Mbombela, we have restricted the number of teams to the seven,” said MPL chairman, Idris Nomani.
Nomani explained that MPL is committed to developing young cricketers and therefore it will be mandatory for all teams participating in the MPL T20 league to have a minimum of three rookie players (under the age of 19) registered with each team. A minimum of two rookie players must be fielded by all teams in games to secure an additional bonus point.
The first round of games took place this past weekend.
Games were played at Valencia Cricket Oval, one game on Saturday afternoon and two games on Sunday.
It was a weekend of lots of runs and wickets as newbies Mpumalanga University came up against Malelane Cricket Club on Saturday.
The students struggled against a young, determined Malelane Cricket Club and eventually succumbed to the young guns. On Sunday, Valencia All Stars came up against MPL T20 favourites, Warriors Cricket Club. Valencia batted first and managed to set Warriors a target of 140 in 20 overs. Warriors reached their target in the 18th over in what turned out to be a closely contested game. In the afternoon encounter, Orchards Cricket Club did battle with Kings XI Cricket Club. The two teams played to a capacity crowd at Valencia Oval and provided spectators with fantastic entertainment.
Kings XI batted first and managed to score 178 for 8 wickets in their allotted 20 overs.
Orchards Cricket Club batsmen came out guns blazing and took the game right down to the last over. Orchards Cricket Club reached their target with two balls to spare after losing five wickets.
“Our main objective is to get cricket in the Lowveld back to the glory days. A few years ago we had 17 or 18 clubs with about 36 teams playing cricket in the Lowveld. It is sad that this has now reduced to a handful of clubs. I believe MPL T20 is a good start in terms of resuscitating the sport in the region. Our rookie policy also gives youth cricketers the opportunity to play more competitive cricket. The MPL T20 will be followed by a 50-over league. MPL appeals to interested stakeholders to get involved and welcomes other clubs to join our initiative,” said Nomani.