A Review of Zimbabwe Men’s Cricket Team Performances in 2023 – A Year of Highs, Lows, Tenacity, and Rebuilding


HARARE – In a year filled with triumphs and setbacks, Zimbabwe Cricket experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2023. The Chevrons, the men's national team, began the year with the primary objective of qualifying for the prestigious 50-over Cricket World Cup in India—the biggest thing to achieve for the Chevrons as the year commenced. 

Zimbabwe Chevrons men's national cricket team 2023 review
Zimbabwe celebrate after securing a stunning 35-run victory over West Indies in a World Cup Qualifier group match at Harare Sports Club on June 25. However, both Windies and the Chevrons failed to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in India—where Australia triumphed over India in the final to be crowned the cricket world champions. [Image: ZimCricketv/X]

As the host nation of the ICC World Cup Qualifier, Zimbabwe was determined to rectify their disappointment from 2018 when they fell short in the final stages.

But before the World Cup Qualifier 2023, the year kicked off with a thrilling clash against Ireland, who toured Zimbabwe in January for a series of three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). 

The T20 series witnessed Zimbabwe emerging as victors, securing a 2-1 series win. However, the three-match ODI series ended in a draw, with one match apiece, while another match was unfortunately washed out due to weather conditions.

Shortly after the Ireland series, former English batsman Gary Ballance made a surprising announcement—he declared his return to international cricket, but this time he would be representing the Chevrons, wearing the Zimbabwean colors. 

There was an air of enthusiasm among fans regarding his return, and that this beckoned new standards of competitive performances. Ballance's comeback coincided with the Test series against West Indies.

In the first drawn Test match, Ballance showcased his prowess by scoring a century, aiding the Chevrons in averting defeat that was imminent. Brandon Mavuta also made an impressive contribution in that Test series, achieving his maiden fifty in the match. However, the West Indies triumphed in the second Test, ultimately winning the two-match series 1-0.

As preparations for the Cricket World Cup Qualifier gathered pace and intensified, Zimbabwe engaged in a three-match ODI series against the Netherlands in March. 

The Chevrons emerged victorious, clinching the series 2-1 with enviable flashes of cricketing brilliance—the resulted bolstered the Chevrons' confidence as the Qualifier approached. Unfortunately, just a few months after his return, Gary Ballance unexpectedly announced his retirement from playing professional cricket, leaving Zimbabwe to continue their preparations without him.

Nonetheless, Zimbabwe remained steadily focused on their goal. Durham and Glamorgan toured Zimbabwe, engaging in first-class and List A matches against select sides, namely the Southerns and Northerns. These matches served as part of the pre-season tour for the county sides.

The Pakistan Shaheens were the next opponents, playing against the Zimbabwe Select team in two first-class matches and six List A matches in May. The Zimbabwe Select squad augmented their lineup by including national team players, enhancing their preparations for the qualifiers. The select side dominated the 50-over series, emerging as winners with a 4-2 victory.

The Chevrons entered the qualifying tournament as overwhelming favorites, buoyed by their imperious and impressive form as well as home advantage—with the passionate crowd of Zimbabwe cricket supporters, known as "Castle Corner", spiritedly rallying behind them. 

Zimbabwe began the tournament on a high note, securing maximum points in matches against Nepal, the Netherlands, West Indies, and the United States of America.

Advancing into the Super 6 stage with four points, Zimbabwe needed two wins out of three to secure a spot in the global showpiece. 

However, their hopes were dashed when they suffered heartbreaking defeats against Sri Lanka and Scotland, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in a row. The Netherlands and Sri Lanka claimed the two coveted berths.

READ MORE: Zim Bites The Dust; 2018 Repeats Itself – A Sad End For Zimbabwe’s Cricket World Cup Dreams As They Lose To Scotland By 31 Runs

Cricket action continued at the Harare Sports Club with the inaugural Zim Afro Cyber T10 tournament. This ten-over tournament attracted legendary players such as Eoin Morgan, Yusuf Pathan, and Mohammad Hafeez, as well as international stars like Tim Seirfert and Rahnamullah Gurbaz. 

The week-long tournament was ultimately won by the Durban Qalanders, who boasted a strong Zimbabwean contingent, including Craig Ervine, Tendai Chatara, Brad Evans (the leading wicket-taker), Nick Welch, and Owen Muzondo. Notably, this tournament marked the first instance of cricket being played under floodlights.

The National Premier League (NPL) returned for its third edition, with the Takashinga Patriots 1 and Takashinga 2 emerging as champions in the 45-over and 20-over tournaments, respectively.

READ MORE: Musekiwa's last-ball yorker seals thrilling NPL T20 Blast title for Takashinga Patriots 2

The Chevrons resumed their cricketing journey with a five-match T20I series against Namibia. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe lost the series 3-2. This series served as a warning sign for what lay ahead, as the Chevrons failed to qualify for another World Cup, suffering defeats to Uganda and Namibia in the Africa T20 qualifier.

The team's struggles continued with a home series loss to Ireland, falling 2-1 in the T20Is and 2-0 in the ODIs. 

Following these disappointing results, head coach Dave Houghton resigned from his position, and Walter Chawaguta was appointed as his interim replacement.

Zimbabwe Cricket's journey in 2023 showcased moments of triumph and resilience, along with challenges and missed opportunities. 

As the team enters a rebuilding phase, they will undoubtedly be seeking redemption and aiming to regain their position among the world's cricketing elite.


Dave Houghton resigns as Chevrons head coach

Chawaguta appointed Zimbabwe’s interim coach for Sri Lanka tour

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