DUBAI: Zimbabwe have their sights set on a spot in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup later this year, and hosting this tournament qualifier gives the African side’s chances a boost.
Two teams will qualify at the end of the ten-team event in Zimbabwe, and securing one of those places would see the hosts return to the ODI top table for the first time since 2015, having missed out on the 2019 event.
That tournament in England was the only Cricket World Cup Zimbabwe have missed since 1979, but Zimbabwe’s record has slipped across the last two decades, with the men’s national team failing to make it out of a 50-over World Cup group stage since 2003.
Reaching the World Cup in India is the first aim, and then looking at regaining that status as a major force is the second, according to all-rounder Wessly Madhevere.
“I was probably 10 when I started watching cricket and dreamed about playing for my country; for it to happen for me right now is massive, I can’t even explain,” the 22-year-old said.
“This tournament means a lot. So many players in our squad have dreamt about playing in it. I’ve dreamt a lot about playing in a tournament like this.
“It’s exciting times for us and for the nation as well. Guys are keen to get back the status that Zimbabwe cricket had and there is no better chance than this one, so we’re really excited about the opportunity.”
Zimbabwe’s excitement is mixed with confidence ahead of a group stage that sees them joined with West Indies, Netherlands, Nepal and USA in Group A.
Madhevere’s confidence is well placed given he became just the third Zimbabwe man to take a hat-trick in ODIs earlier this year, with his feat coming against group opponents Netherlands.
“I don’t know if I can explain the feeling of taking the hat-trick but it was something beyond what I could imagine,” he said.
“For it to actually happen to me came as a surprise but I’ll take it and look to take more. It was a brilliant feeling.
“I believe I’m one of those players who thrives on confidence. Being able to contribute to my team and being able to help the team win games, it can only boost my confidence.
“I’m quite confident right now and hopefully I’ll be able to put on some match-winning performances for my team.”
That hat-trick is Madhevere’s stand-out moment in Zimbabwe colours so far in his career, but it is with the bat where he is most expected to excel for his country going forward.
The all-rounder has registered 12 fifties in white-ball cricket since making his Zimbabwe debut in 2020, with five of those coming in ODIs.
And Madhevere is hopeful of this tournament being the occasion for him to bring up his first century for Zimbabwe.
“If there is one thing that has been said by the coaches and so many people who know me, is that they are demanding a big score,” he said.
“I know I’m due a big score. I’m looking to get my first hundred in this tournament. Hopefully it happens. That is one of the things that almost everyone is talking about.”
Zimbabwe finished second bottom of the Super League to drop into the Qualifier, which they will host.
Their six victories from 24 matches included eye-catching triumphs over Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, three series in which they ultimately ended up losing 2-1. But those wins weren’t enough to earn one of the Super League qualification spots.
Nepal, Sunday 18 June – Harare Sports Club
Netherlands, Tuesday 20 June – Harare Sports Club
West Indies, Saturday 24 June – Harare Sports Club
USA, Monday 26 June – Harare Sports Club