By Anesu Chakanetsa
IT continues to be a busy schedule for Zimbabwe cricket.
Just like what is happening with football, though the script might be different, Cricket Zimbabwe had endured pain in the rain, but have defied all odds.
Coming from the barbaric whims of political sabotage by countries like England, whose national team up to now has not touched down in Harare, cricket in Zimbabwe is on the rebound.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra of re-engagement seems to have cut deep in the hearts of the people, even for those who had once denounced Zimbabwe.
The just ended tour by English county cricket teams, Durham and Glamorgan, might have been the first step of England’s re-engagement with Zimbabwe in terms of the sport.
If one remembers very well, David Livingstone came before Cecil John Rhodes.
But in this case, the remorseful English feel that they are not complete without Zimbabwe.
During the tour, they enjoyed the Zimbabwean sun and beer, Zambezi Lager to be precise.
They too enjoyed beating Zimbabwe’s select sides, Southerns and Northerns, in T20 and One Day Internationals.
The Zimbabweans were found wanting.
In one of the T20 matches last week, Southerns would have restricted Glamorgan that needed five runs from a single ball, but Shingirai Masakadza’s bowling was well studied by Glamorgan batsmen.
It was too predictable and his last ball was hit for a six.
On Tuesday, Northerns strengthened their team against Durham, the fiercer of the two sides.
It looked like a firm Zimbabwe side with top of the order batsmen like Tadiwa Marumani, Gary Balance and Wesley Madhevere who all failed to score more than 10 runs each.
Only Craig Ervine hit a half century in the game while Ryan Burl and Innocent Kaia tried hard.
They just needed to surpass a 216 target set by Durham but most batsmen lacked energy and the mindset to contain super fielding and bowling by the Englishmen.
And that has become an integral part of the game, studying opponents.
For example, Durham bowlers would give loose balls to some of the Zimbabwe batsmen just to see how and where they would hit the ball.
Chevrons batsmen were always simply dismissed because they wanted to hit bounderies yet there was time and space to hit singles and doubles to catch the target.
Such should be lessons for Zimbabwe cricket, being too technical, especially in batting.
With the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 around the corner, Dave Houghton, the Zimbabwe Chevrons coach, should really look into the batting issue.
The event, which will decide the final two participants for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India later in the year, is scheduled for June 18 to July 9 in Harare and Bulawayo.
Host Tournament director Hamilton Masakadza, who played for Zimbabwe at the last edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier that was also staged in the country in 2018, told the media that his office will deliver a world-class event.
“We are thrilled to be hosting a tournament of such magnitude and global significance, bringing together 10 teams boasting some of the world’s most gifted and talented players to fight it out in Harare and Bulawayo for two places at the World Cup,” he said.
The 10 teams that will feature in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 will be confirmed soon.
They will include the five bottom teams on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League table, the top three teams from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 and the top two teams from the 2023 World Cup Qualifier Playoff.
Zimbabwe’s participation in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 is already confirmed as they are out of contention for direct qualification ahead of their final Super League series at home to the Netherlands next week.
The two sides will meet in three ODIs scheduled for March 21, 23 and 25 at Harare Sports Club, a week after the tour by the two English counties.
Since Masakadza’s tenure as the first director of Zimbabwe Cricket in 2019, there has been a lot of cricket action in the country although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the progress.
The post was created as part of the restructuring process for Zimbabwe cricket which had gone through a lot.
During his 19-year international career, Masakadza represented his country more than 300 times – in 68 Tests, 209 ODIs and 66 T20Is.
He racked up more than 2 000 Test runs, as well as 5 658 runs and 39 wickets in ODIs.
Masakadza retired from international cricket in 2019, finishing on a high by scoring 71 from only 42 balls in a tight victory over Afghanistan during the Bangladesh T20 tri-series.
He was also captain in all three formats for his country.
His leadership style seems to be taking Zimbabwe to greater heights.
However, more still needs to be done for Zimbabwe to become a complete cricketing nation.
There must come a time when the whole nation will breath and dream cricket.