Time for the national cricket team to turn up and give us a show

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Zimbabwe national men’s cricket team

IT has been a forgettable year for the Zimbabwe national men’s cricket team on the international stage.

After getting the New Year off to a promising start despite a 2-1 defeat in a One-Day International series in Sri Lanka, signs were that the Chevrons were ready to kick on.  It turned out the vibrant performance was a false dawn, and it has been downhill since then.

The Chevrons were stunned 3-2 by minnows Namibia in a five-match Twenty20 International (T20I) Series in Bulawayo before being whitewashed by Afghanistan in both the One Day International and T20I series.

The clean sweep against Afghanistan proved to be the final straw and the Zimbabwe Cricket board reacted by firing head coach Lalchand Rajput and replacing him with local cricket legend Dave Houghton.

Rajput has been in charge of the Zimbabwe national team since May 2018, first on an interim basis before getting the job full time in August the same year.

There are not many good times to write home about during his tenure. The Chevrons failed to secure a berth at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 and were suspended for the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup because of government interference in the administration of the game.

Before then, the Chevrons were regulars on the global stage in the sport, competing at every iteration since independence.

Houghton, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest cricketers to come out of Zimbabwe, has since promised to turnaround the fortunes of the struggling side.

Thus, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B 2022 which gets underway in Bulawayo on Monday gives Zimbabwe an opportunity for a shot at some redemption after a very disappointing year.

The eight teams in group B are divided into two groups of four, with the top two teams after the group phase progressing to the semi-finals. The top teams after the group stage play will take on the second-place finisher in the opposite group, with the semi-final winners booking their ticket for Australia. The teams will play in a final to determine which First Round group they will enter.

It is a long climb back to the summit of international cricket for Zimbabwe. It starts with three group stage games against Jersey, the US and Singapore. Zimbabwe has to aim to reach the fila, because both finalists will book their tickets to Australia for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

But the opportunity is there, let us not waste it, and a whole nation is rooting for the team to bring back the good times.