Zim women set to make cricket history

They will also be checking the record books to confirm that their mark has been entered into the sands of time. This is because when the Zimbabwe team appears at the Women’s World Cup Regional Qualifying Cricket Tournament in Kenya, it will be making its first ever appearance on the international stage.

“It is really a great honour for me to lead the women’s team to this daunting challenge in Kenya. We never thought all our efforts as female cricketers would one day lead to this momentous occasion and we are all truly overwhelmed,” Julia Chibhabha, the first Zimbabwe women’s cricket captain, told the Zimbabwe Cricket website.

Elder sister to one of the brightest prospects on the Zimbabwe cricket horizon, national team top-order batsman Chamunorwa, Julia made history in 2003 by becoming the first ever woman to be contracted as coach by Zimbabwe Cricket, after attaining a Level One certificate. She finds time, over and above her full-time coaching at Widdecombe Primary School in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, to serve the game she has come to love and know best mostly as a player but also sometimes as scorer for international matches.

The 24-year old believes her moment of truth will come in Kenya when she leads her team of novices team in its quest for a berth at the 2009 global cricket showcase: “We are going out there to prove ourselves and to make a statement that women’s cricket is here to stay. Deep down in my sub-conscience, and with the girls all playing so well, I really do believe we can beat the odds and go all the way to the final.

“What better way is there to announce our arrival on the international arena than making it to the Women’s World Cup at our first attempt!”

Emmanuel Dube is the coach, with Manicaland Cricket Association board member Joyce Chizano as the team manager, Lorraine Chivandire the physical fitness trainer and Talent Twamba the physiotherapist.

Zimbabwe will join Tanzania, Uganda and the host nation in the tournament that runs in the Kenyan capital Nairobi from Friday until Monday. After the match against Uganda on Friday, they will take on the Kenyans on Saturday and then play their final match against Tanzania on Sunday.

Africa Cricket Association Chairman Peter Chingoka welcomed the four-nation tournament in Kenya as “a happy occasion for cricket on the continent,” saying it is a manifestation of the progress made in taking the game to all corners and communities of Africa without regard to gender, race or creed.

The winner of the African regional tournament will progress to the International Cricket Council Women’s World Cup Cricket Qualifying Tournament (WWCQT), which is on in Pakistan next year. Together with two more qualifiers from the European regional tournament in the Netherlands, they will join Bermuda, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and South Africa on that penultimate stage where they will battle for two tickets to the 2009 ICC Women’s World Cup Cricket tournament, which will be held in Australia.

The hosts, who will also be the defending champions, England, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies have earned automatic qualification for the 2009 global showcase, following their top-six finish in the 2005 edition in Pretoria, South Africa.

The 2009 ICC Women’s World Cup Cricket tournament will be the first to be played under the auspices of the ICC since its merger with the International Women’s Cricket Council last year.

The Zimbabwe women’s squad is in camp and has been playing a string of practice matches against men’s national age-group sides. Camp breaks on Wednesday, with the travelling party leaving for Nairobi the next day.

Squad:

Julia Chibhabha (captain), Joanna Chanjack, Ruvarashe Chinyemba, Stacey Davis, Emily Jinjika, Shaene Meyers, Thandolwenkosi Mlilo, Siphatisiwe Moyo, Sinikiwe Mpofu, Pellagia Mujaji, Mary-Anne Musonda, Nonthlanthla Nyathi, Yvonne Rainsford.

Non-travelling reserves: Sharice Saili and Thelma Tshuma.

December 2006
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