Senior Sports Reporter
THE last two years have been tumultuous for the Zimbabwe women’s cricket team.
They endured the worst, in a short period, starting with the dejection of being kicked out of the previous ICC T20 World Cup.
They then had to deal with the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic which crippled sport worldwide.
But, the light is beginning to shine on them again.
It has been confirmed that the Pakistan senior women’s team, who are currently on tour of South Africa, will make a stop-over in Zimbabwe for three One Day games and a two-match T20 series.
The Lady Chevrons team manager, Caroline Nyamande, said they can afford to smile again as they are set to return to international cricket for the first time since May 2019.
The women’s side had been starved of game time and morale was getting low.
Nyamande said she literally jumped with joy after learning of the Government’s approval to host Pakistan next month.
Coach Adam Chifo said it was a boost in their quest for World Cup qualification and ODI status.
“We were elated. It was the best news ever, it’s like we were waiting in limbo. One foot in and one foot out so we literally jumped with joy,” Nyamande told The Saturday Herald.
“The series is the much-needed game time at international level that we have not had in a very long while.
“This is quite a huge break for us, so we are very excited about this tour.”
The tour will be held in a bio-secure bubble with no spectators allowed at the match venue.
All matches are scheduled to be played at Harare Sports Club, starting with the one-dayers on February 11, 13 and 15.
The T20 games are pencilled in for February 18 and 20.
The series will mark the first time the Zimbabwe senior women’s team will be involved in international cricket since May 2019.
The side is still trying to recover from the setbacks faced in the last two years.
Morale reached rock bottom when they were barred from the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, following a protracted stand-off between ICC and the Zimbabwean authorities.
They could have resumed internationals last year but lightning struck for the second time when the qualifiers for the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup which were scheduled for Sri Lanka were postponed to this year.
Both Zimbabwe and Pakistan will be using the tour as part of their preparations for the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021, a 10-team tournament that will be held in June and July.
The top three teams from that qualifying event will progress to the 50-over ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 in New Zealand.
Chifo said the team was focused on qualifying for the World Cup and also pushing for the attainment of ODI status.
“We are very grateful for having been afforded a chance by the SRC and government to return to doing what we love doing, that is playing cricket and we are all excited,” said Chifo. “Obviously, we were devastated by missing out on the T20 World Cup qualifiers due to the ICC ban and I must say it’s been tough being in the wilderness for almost two years.
“It’s something that we have been trying to manage that the players don’t lose heart and stay focused on our main goal, that of qualifying for the World Cup and ultimately obtaining ODI status.
“We have a big chance of qualifying for the World Cup. It all depends on how much we want it and this can only be complimented by a solid road map with a clearly defined plan.
“This is what we are putting in place and it includes playing top teams like Pakistan.
“Hopefully, we will have an opportunity to play two or more top-ranked teams before the qualifiers so that we can be able to assess ourselves and work on areas of concern before the major tournament.’’
Local women’s cricket received some cheer following the announcement of the domestic one-day and T20 tournaments.
Lady Chevrons team manager, Nyamande, said the move by ZC was a master-stroke in the revival of the game.
She also hopes for better showing against Pakistani.
“We were late in starting with the preps as you can see, but with Pakistan coming, we are just excited and are looking forward to the games,” she said.
“We had kind of lost the momentum we had and felt quite derailed. It was really disappointing and with the women it’s a different thing altogether.
“They easily give up on things. The domestic games, however, brought the energy we need so now we play in hope.”
ZC, having already successfully hosted domestic competitions in a controlled environment, will host the Pakistan women series in a bio-secure bubble in order to greatly minimise the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
Stringent protocols for the tour are already in place, with the ZC COVID-19 Committee, which includes the organisation’s chief medical officer, Solomon Madzogo, meeting twice a week to ensure all is in place for a safe series.