MIDLANDS Provincial Affairs minister Owen Ncube has commended the move by the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board’s decision to spread the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Qualifiers around the country, with games set to be played in Harare, Bulawayo and Kwekwe.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Queen’s Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club in Bulawayo, Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare and Kwekwe Sports Club, will share 34 matches between them from March 4 to 25, with Harare Sports Club staging the final.
Speaking at a tour of the Kwekwe Sports Club, Ncube lauded ZC for according Kwekwe an opportunity to host the qualifiers as that would give the locals exposure to international cricket standards.
“We were impressed with what we saw during the tour and we can safely say that we are ready to host this prestigious tournament, “ he said.
Modest renovations to the venues are being carried out and domestic tournaments have even postponed as work is carried out under ICC supervision to try to add more pace and bounce to pitches, an attempt to ensure livelier, higher-scoring matches.
“The Midlands Cricket Association managed to spruce up the facilities and have been accorded with an opportunity to host such games of a high magnitude.
This will give a platform for the local kids, who play cricket because during the tournament they will receive vast coaching sessions. They will get a chance to interact with high profile players and we hope that this will have a positive impact on the local cricket fraternity. It will give these youngsters exposure and educative sessions, lessons on anti-doping and sport values education.
Ten teams will contest the qualifiers, which begin on March 4, with two going through to join the top eight-ranked nations in a slimmed-down World Cup in England, which will run from May 30 to July 15, 2019.
West Indies, twice World Cup winners, face a nervy qualifying tournament after missing out, as did Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe, on the top-eight ODI rankings at the cut-off date of September 30 last year.
These four Test nations are joined by Hong Kong, Netherlands, Scotland and Papua New Guinea, who finished in the top four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The remaining two sides for the tournament were decided in Namibia a week ago when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nepal finished winners and runners-up respectively in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2, to qualify.
West Indies face Ireland, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE in Group A, while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and Nepal form Group B.