The Zimbabwe women’s national cricket team qualified for the 2013 International Cricket Council (ICC) qualifiers to be held in Bangladesh in November next year despite losing to South Africa.
Both Southern Africa nations proved that experience and funding was vital during the African division qualifiers staged in Kenya at the weekend.
South Africa proved a class apart, winning all their matches by massive margins.
In the two matches they batted first they won by 281 and 238 runs, and when chasing they romped home on every occasion with 40 overs in hand.
Offspinner Sunette Loubser had a field day with 13 wickets at 2.84, including the remarkable return of 5-7 in the final against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe finished runners-up but only managed that as Kenya, who beat them by 38 runs in the round-robin stage, contrived to lose to Uganda, a result the Ugandans showed was no fluke by repeating it in the third-place play-off.
Uganda’s win over Kenya should have helped them to second place, but in their next game they lost to rank outsiders Tanzania.
And it was the Ugandans who introduced an element of controversy into proceedings when their match against South Africa was held up for six minutes after an on-field row with Mozambican umpire Tariq Mukhtar.
Mukhtar called a no-ball from which Carol Namugenyi was caught. “Anxious to make a breakthrough, the desperate South Africans led by their team manager and one of their players Shandre Fritz intimidated fearful Mukhtar thus forcing him to reverse his decision,” reported the possibly less-than-impartial Ugandan Monitor newspaper, which went on to claim the incident cost their side a win.
Statistics suggest otherwise as South Africa won by eight wickets with 40.4 overs in hand.
Kenya, with home advantage, were a bitter disappointment, all the more so as they had threatened to go on strike on the eve of the tournament and tried to use the pliant local media to support their cause.
It has to be said the gulf in quality between the South Africans and the rest was at times embarrassing.
In the final South Africa smashed 314 for 4 and then blew away Zimbabwe for a dismal 33, extras the highest scorer with 9!