Source: Twitter handle of Mr. Sikandar Raza @SRazaB24

Zimbabwe will be participating in a World Cup event after a gap of six years. From suffering a chastening defeat in 2018 World Cup Qualifiers to getting the ticket for the T20 World Cup in Australia, the team has found itself both elated and shattered. But after enduring tumult for several months and several series’ now, it seems Zimbabwe are back again.

It has been a hard time for Zimbabwean Cricket and its fans but when wasn’t this the case? Cricket has been suffering from a serious malign for the last eighteen years; something, which stems from the country’s political and economic crises. 

Cricket in Zimbabwe remains a popular game followed by a huge number of people. The problem though has been its governance in the country. It is mainly of due to the poor governance of the board that one saw talent run into a snag and waning away.

What compounded the problem further was that the talented cricketers left the country for more attractive options in the County cricket.

The charm, competitiveness of the Country’s national team saw a slow and painful death. The team, which once promised so much, especially in its golden years (1997-2003) fell out gradually.

Post-2004 untill 2014, Zimbabwe competed with the West Indies and Bangladesh. And that was that. But even this standard fell down further as the team found themselves at the level of Ireland and Afghanistan. 

The irony is that both teams are competitive today (perhaps at the level of Zimbabwe) and are no longer minnows.

After the debacle of 2019, when the board was suspended by ICC, the Zimbabwe team slipped even below Ireland and Afghanistan, in terms of quality of cricket and performances.

This was the prime reason why the team that now stands at the level of The Netherlands, Scotland and Namibia had to compete in the ICC T20 Qualifiers to get the ticket for the mega event in Australia: the World cup.

The team had earlier in the season suffered a disastrous loss against Namibia. It was termed as one of the lowest moments in Zimbabwe Cricket.

In such a situation, the challenge to qualify for the World Cup in Australia was massive. The teams at the World Cup might have been lesser in terms of experience to Zimbabwe but they were not behind in terms of skills and talent. Above all, the painful experience of 2018 World Cup Qualifiers was still fresh in memory of the entirety of the cricketing fraternity in Zimbabwe.

In such a scenario, when the team not only qualified for the marquee tournament in Australia, but ended as winners- Zimbabwe achieved a breakthrough; it was more than a sigh of relief for the Zimbabwe cricket.

Finally, Zimbabwe will be participating in a World Cup event after several barren attempts to qualify for it in the previous five years.

The credit goes to the senior players, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine and finally the star of the tournament “Sikandar Raza”. All three of them, who potentially could be on the last leg of their careers gave their all in the attempt to ensure their Zimbabwe get on that plane to Australia.

Raza who is 36 now, seems to have taken his game to next level. He has improved like a fine wine. He has turned into the allrounder which Zimbabwe has been searching from a long time. In five matches, he scored 228 runs at an average of 57 and took five wickets as well.

It also included figures of 8-4 – let that sink in – in the final of the tournament. He will be crucial player for the team if they have to leave a mark on the World Cup.

Sean Williams was the third highest scorer of the tournament with 197 runs in five games.

After returning from the break due to personal reasons, Williams have become backbone of Zimbabwe’s batting. Along with Raza he will be pivotal in how far the team progresses in the tournament in October.

Despite being the winner of the tournament there are number of issues that Zimbabwe need to address to compete the higher ranked teams in future.

Younger players like Milton Shumba, Wessley Madhevere, Ryan Burl needs to support their senior counterparts.

They were unable to find any kind of rhythm in the tournament.

On the bowling front Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara are the only one who could trouble the international quality batsmen. The others like Luke Jongwe, Richard Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza have been listless in bigger encounters.

The World Cup qualification is big booster for Zimbabwe, but the administrators and cricketers need to understand that for the sustainability of the game in country, the team have to win back its popular fan base which could be done only by good performances on the field by players and off the field by the board.


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