Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket acting managing director Givemore Makoni says the country is ready to host the Africa regional qualifier for next year’s International Cricket Council Women’s T20 World Cup.
The qualifier will be played across three venues in Harare from May 5-13 after the organisers decided to spread the games to Harare Sports Club, Old Hararians and Takashinga Sports Club in Highfield.
Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe will face off for the two tickets to the Global Qualifier, which is the ultimate eliminator for the prestigious ICC Women T20 World Cup set for Australia next year.
Makoni said they are looking to build on the successes of hosting the men’s ODI World Cup qualifier in Harare, which attracted unprecedented crowds last year.
The ICC were impressed by the infrastructure that was used for the same tournament and decided to give Zimbabwe the rights to host the women’s regional qualifier.
“This event will present us with another incredible opportunity to showcase not only the passion for cricket in Zimbabwe, but also the warmth of our people as well as the breathtaking beauty of our country and its tourist attractions.
“With the tournament itself bringing together nine teams, boasting some gifted and talented players, I am confident we are in for an unforgettable treat of some high quality cricket,” said Makoni.
The locals are pinning their hopes on home advantage to make it among the top two that will proceed to the final round of the qualifiers.
ZC said they will not leave any stone unturned in the preparations to avoid the disappointments faced by both the men’s and women’s teams in the previous ICC World Cup qualifiers. The Zimbabwe’s women team will tour Uganda for a triangular as part of their preparations.
Recently, they had a bilateral series against Namibia which they won 5-0.
“We have set aside resources to make sure that they are well-prepared so that when they play in this tournament, they will be able to compete and stand their ground.
“The triangular series in Uganda will help them very much because you will notice that the last time they failed to qualify, it was Uganda who did the damage.
“So to build confidence and motivate our women, we decided to send them to play there. Between now and the time we play (in the) tournament, I am confident they will have had enough in terms of preparations. We are hiring sports psychologists to sit down with them and extra fitness trainers to make sure they are ready for the demands,” said Makoni.
Despite having played little cricket on the domestic front, the team’s captain Mary-Anne Musonda said they are still confident of upstaging their rivals in front of home crowds.
The women’s side has been playing local boys’ teams during the weekends as part of their preparations. Musonda said they need to avoid the debacle of the last qualifier when they fell to Uganda.
“I think pressure is something that you cannot run away from.
“It was a qualifier that we were supposed to take, but we have accepted those defeats and have taken responsibility for them.
“We have sat down with the technical team and have worked towards making ourselves better so that we don’t have the same kind of results.
“Us being hosts, I also think it’s going to help because of home advantage,” said Musonda.
Source : The Herald