Zim women’s cricket team wins World Cup qualification tourney

The Zimbabweans won all their three matches in the tournament that also included Tanzania, Uganda and the hosts.

Finishing top of the pile in Kenya gave the southern African women right of passage to the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifying Tournament (WCWCQT), which is in Pakistan next year.

In the African regional qualifiers which were held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi last weekend, Zimbabwe beat Uganda by 63 runs, Kenya by 104 and then- in the tournament showdown- they accounted for Tanzania by 82 runs.

In that match, Zimbabwe batted first and posted 145 runs for nine wickets in their allotted 50 overs. Chasing, the Tanzanians were bowled out for 63 in 40,1 overs with player of the match Julia Chibhabha, the Zimbabwe captain, claiming three wickets for 10 runs.

The Zimbabweans finished top of the regional qualification log, the Tanzanians second with two wins, Uganda third with one and the home side bottom without a win.

Africa Cricket Association (ACA) chairman Peter Chingoka congratulated the four countries that were in Kenya for being active members of the family of 65 among the ICC’s 97 members, who have established structures for women’s cricket. He said theirs was a commendable development that deserves to be emulated by others.

Mr Chingoka, who is also the chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket interim committee, repeated ACA’s commitment to take the game to all the corners of the continent without regard to race or creed:

“On our part as the continental cricket body, we will leave no stone unturned in developing the game far and wide around Africa. Our political leaders have set us the challenge by working hard to promote the ideals of continental economic integration and development through organisations such as the African Union and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). The latter is a vision and strategic framework for the continent’s renewal. As sports leaders, we are championing our own Nepad.”

At the WWCQT in Pakistan, Zimbabwe will join European qualifiers the Netherlands and Scotland, Bermuda, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and South Africa on that penultimate stage where they will battle for two tickets to the ICC Women’s World Cup Cricket tournament, which will be held in Australia in 2009.

With the competition in Pakistan no easy walk, the Zimbabweans will need more of their players to go down the road opened by their captain, Julia Chibhabha, in Kenya.

Like a veteran commander, the 24-year old led from the front: taking seven wickets for 26 runs from her 30 overs in the three days of the tournament. Her highlights included two analyses of 3 for 10, and the other 1 for 6 in 10 overs against Kenya.

To add to her deeds with the ball, Julia, sister to Zimbabwe top-order batsman Chamunorwa and Zimbabwe’s first female accredited coach, also weighed in with a useful 27 runs against Uganda.

Already through to the 2009 women’s cricket global showcase are the defending champions Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies who have earned automatic qualification following their top-six finish in the 2005 edition in Pretoria, South Africa.

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

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