What’s next for the Chevrons? ... As Zimbabwe misses out on yet another World Cup qualification


HARARE – Zimbabwe’s men’s national cricket team experienced yet another crushing disappointment as they secured a third-place finish (behind Namibia and Uganda) in the recently concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier—missing out on another opportunity for ICC World Cup participation. 

Namibia and Uganda qualified for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, which will be jointly hosted by the West Indies and United States of America.

Zimbabwe Chevrons men's national cricket team miss out on T20 World Cup 2024
Although Zimbabwe finished the T20 World Cup Qualifier with a mammoth 110-runs victory over Kenya, they failed to qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup; with such disconcerting failure raising eyebrows. [Image: @ZimCricketv/X]

While the team exhibited commendable victories over Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Nigeria, these successes were overshadowed by the monumental losses to Namibia and Uganda, as both associate nations secured qualification to the largest ICC T20 tournament to date in style—and also sparking conversations for increased inclusion of associate sides in the global cricketing calendar. 

The Chevrons’ inability (an inability that seems perennial at this point) to secure participation at this global showcase has elicited widespread discontent on social media; prompting calls for possible dismissals within the board, technical department, and even among the playing personnel from disillusioned fans, analysts, and pundits.

Amidst swirling rumors of the potential departure of technical director Hamilton Masakadza and head coach Dave Houghton, it is remiss of us not to acknowledge the positive strides made by the pair during their tenure—a tenure marked with unbelievable highs and frustrating lows. 

Masakadza notably contributed to a noteworthy improvement in Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket scene, particularly with the flair of quality bolstered by overseas players participating in the Logan Cup and Pro50 Championship. 

His initiatives, which include invigorating club cricket and introducing the National Premier League (NPL), have not only propped up talent development—it has also provided exciting young prospects, including Mashford Shungu, Panashe Taruvinga, and Ryan Kamwemba, with huge opportunities to gain exposure, step up their nascent careers, and prepare for upcoming events, such as the U-19 World Cup.

A major drawback however pertains to the acute dearth of an actual and concrete high performance plan to meaningfully develop such budding cricket stars into fully fledged professionals who deliver favourable results on a frequent, consistent basis.

While Houghton oversaw gigantic series wins over Bangladesh, Ireland, and the Netherlands and instilled a positive atmosphere bordering on a winning and resilient culture within the team, focusing on consistency remains a critically woeful challenge. 

And, time and again, this conspicuous failure to adhere to consistency has hauntingly bit the Zimbabwe men’s national cricket team, as both the young and old players fail to step up to the scene. It results in the team missing out on qualifying for global cricket tournaments. 

The team finds itself in glittering moments of vast promise, only to monumentally falter. 

Case in point: Last year, following the remarkable win over Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup, Zimbabwe failed to get one more win to secure automatic qualification, at a time when one more win was required for more progress. 

Zimbabwe still got in good positions to win both against Bangladesh and the Netherlands.

In the 2023 qualifications for the 50-over showpiece (that was held in India this year with Australia crowned champions in an exhilarating final), Zimbabwe failed to beat Scotland in the Super Six stage at pivotal moment, considering that they had registered some impressive wins on their confident way to the Super Six. The harrowing 2018 demise against the United Arab Emirates hastily came to the fore, highlighting Zimbabwe’s uncanny habit to disappoint at the last minute. 

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

These examples lucidly underscore the factor of consistency on the international stage for Zimbabwe—time and again, Zimbabwe look amazingly great on paper, only to stutter at critical moments. 

Looking ahead, the team must ineluctably confront the material reality of shallow reserves beyond veteran players; especially in the batting department with the likes of Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza all over 35 now. 

The element of continuity regarding Zimbabwe men’s national team players is ostensibly moving at a snail’s pace, and without addressing this factor, history may continue to stubbornly repeat itself in negative terms. 

Such element of continuity also seems to impact the confidence and mentality of the younger players in not-so-desirable ways—they deliver impeccable results on the domestic scene, only to disappoint when on the big stage. 

Houghton might have done something noteworthy regarding the team’s mentality; but evidently, given this recent failure to qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup, his efforts were not enough. 

Zimbabwe’s cricket team has some new players who are still learning, and some old players who are almost done playing. This means Zimbabwe might need some time and hard work to get better at cricket and compete with other teams. 

The Chevrons need to assiduously and exponentially double their efforts at inspiring confidence and a winning mentality again. 

As the team gears up for the upcoming Ireland series in Harare, this represents an opportunity to quell uncertainty and illustrate a potential shift away from the current narrative of endless challenges.

The recent episode has been gruelling and excruciatingly agonizing – particularly for the unwavering fans – but it presents an opportunity for critical introspection, reassessment, recalibration, and ultimately excellence. 

So, what’s next? Well, we wait to see. But with ample reserves of patience, strategic planning, and a collective resurgence, Zimbabwe has the potential and tools to reclaim its position as a formidable force to reckon with in international cricket.

Where there is will, there is a way. 

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