By Tadious Manyepo
The last time Zimbabwe hosted the International Cricket Council World Cup qualifiers was in March last year and the senior men’s side, the Chevrons, flattered to deceive when they came so close yet so far to nailing a place for this year’s global fiesta to be jointly staged in England and Wales from May to July.
An outcry and a shake-up within the administration ensued after the country failed to book a berth at the World Cup for the first time since 1983.
But, after a flying start to the year following a whitewash victory over Namibia in a bilateral five-day, Zimbabwe’s senior women’s cricket team will be hoping to make home advantage count when they host the ICC Africa Regional T20 World Cup qualifiers in May.
Nine countries, including Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda as well as the hosts will battle it out to grab one of the two spots to progress to the Global qualifier where winners will then book a berth to the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup to be staged in Australia.
But before they can shift their attention to the global qualifier, the Lady Chevrons know they will have to find a way to clear the African hurdle in May first.
That the team has constantly failed to make it to the 10-team World Cup of cricket’s shortest version is a challenge in its own for Adam Chifo’s charges and they will have to be in their best shape possible to beat fellow Africans who are coming with their eyes on the prize as well.
With the Chevrons’ disastrous ICC World Cup qualification campaign having ended in tears on home soil last year still in the back of Zimbabweans’ minds, the Lady Chevrons have taken it upon themselves to let their people forget the events of that forgettable afternoon at Harare Sports Club when the hosts came agonisingly close but missed out.
The team, which has failed to breach Uganda in recent years have already lined up a high profile friendly with the East Africans in Kampala next month as they seek to harden before the regional qualifier descends in Harare.
Zimbabwe lost to the Ugandans by three wickets in the ICC Women World Cup 2018 T20 Africa qualifier played in Namibia in 2017, missing out on the ticket to the West Indies.
Prior to that, the team had suffered a 7-run defeat to the same opponents in a T20 encounter.
With the Lady Chevrons increasingly becoming wary of Uganda, the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has included the East Africans in their preparatory diary as they seek to rectify some errors before the team play the qualifiers.
ZC acting managing director Givemore Makoni confirmed the sparring match and assured that the country was ready to host the qualifiers.
“We are in for an unforgettable top-quality cricket with nine teams coming for the spectacle. We are ready to host the regional qualifiers,” said Makoni.
As part of their preparations, the Lady Chevrons are constantly playing different age-group boys.
All-rounder Anesu Mushangwe who has become an integral part of the team promised good performance from the girls and appealed to the fans to cheer the team all the way.
“As Lady Chevrons, we are promising nothing but beautiful cricket given that we are all well motivated ahead of the qualifiers. We are getting all the support and it’s now up to the team to do well in the field of play.
“We are well prepared, fans should come in their numbers. We know the last time they were disappointed when the Chevrons failed to qualify for the World Cup in front of the home supporters. It’s one of those things that happens in the game but we will be out to give our all for them,” she said.