Inland Premier League kicks off

2008-09-25 00:00

THERE is much anticipation among players and club cricket supporters as the 2008/09 KZN Inland Premier League gets under way this weekend.

The league has increased to nine teams with last season’s Challenge League winners Northern Districts of Newcastle included. K&L from Ladysmith, last season’s wooden spoonists, have been given another chance to prove themselves at this level.

However, the league will revert back to an eight-team competition the following season with the last-placed team facing automatic relegation. The eighth-placed team will have a promotion/relegation contest with this season’s Challenge League winners.

With this system in place, those teams propping up the league log will have to make a big effort if they are to avoid the drop and we can expect to see a real dogfight among these teams this season.

There was a close tussle for top honours last season with Varsity eventually topping Midlands and Standard at the death. The expectations are that this will be the case again, making for another exciting season. Zingari and Lancashire are likely to be the dark horses.

In Sunday’s fare, Varsity are scheduled to travel to Newcastle for their meeting with Northern Districts.

Varsity were disappointed that they lost their recent National Club Championships qualifier match against South Western Districts champions George Cricket Club and will be determined to get their campaign off to a flying start against the league newcomers.

Standard are set to travel to Ladysmith to meet K&L. With former KZN Inland coach Robbie Coutts at the helm, the Standard players would do well to take advantage of his proven expertise and experience, as it can only benefit the club.

Midlands should be too strong for Orientals at Eston. The farmers have performed with distinction pre-season, including a particularly meritorious victory over Pretoria High School Old Boys.

Lancashire host Young Natalians at the Michael Patricks Oval in Woodlands. Both clubs are saying little at this stage, with possible new signings still in the air.

A great deal of interest centres around the possible club destinations of former Dolphins stars Doug Watson and Andrew Tweedie.

Maritzburg Cricket Association matches also begin with the Division One clash between champions Standard II and runners-up Masibemunye the pick.

FIXTURES: Midlands vs Orientals (Eston); K&L vs Standard (Ladysmith); Lancashire vs Young Natalians (Woodlands); Northern Districts vs Varsity (to be confirmed); Zingari (bye).

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