Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE first signs the Lady Chevrons are being transformed from national sweethearts into global cricket outcasts have emerged after four team members, and their coach, were barred from being part of the ICC Women’s Global Development Squad in England.
This follows the International Cricket Council’s suspension of Zimbabwe cricket from its membership last Thursday.
Lady Chevrons captain Mary-Anne Musonda and her national teammates, former skipper Sharne Mayers, Anesu Mushangwe and Tasmeen Granger — were on Monday dropped from the ICC Women’s Global Development Squad for a series of Twenty20 games against the Kia Super League teams in England.
Granger, the 27-year-old all-rounder who gave up a coaching job in New Zealand and returned home to pursue her dreams of qualifying for the World Cup, revealed their trip was blocked after flights had been booked and visas secured for them to enter England.
“Was broken after the @ICC ruling last Thursday. @ZimbabweSrc (Zimbabwe Sport and Recreation Commission) please Stand Down,’’ she tweeted.
“As if it wasn’t enough to miss Ireland and Netherlands, 4 players selected for the Global Squad for the Kia women’s Super league in England in 4 days’ time, with flights (booked), visas done. CANCELLED.’’
Granger became the first Zimbabwe female cricketer to ply her trade abroad when she took part in the Atlanta Women’s Cricket Tournament for two successive years before landing a coaching job in Christchurch in New Zealand.
ICC Women’s Cricket manager, Holly Colvin, advised Lady Chevrons’ coach, Adam Chifo, who was also scheduled to be part of the tour, of the cancellation of their programme.
“As I’m sure you are aware, the ICC Board has taken the decision to suspend Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect and place a restriction on the Zimbabwe national team participating in ICC events,” Colvin wrote in an email to Chifo on Monday.
“Unfortunately, this also extends to their participation in the Women’s Global Development Squad program, and so it is with great regret that I write to inform you that Adam as Head Coach and the four Zimbabwe players will no longer be able to take part in the UK edition of the tour next week.’’
Chifo, who guided the Lady Chevrons to a dominant victory in the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa in May, in a success story that cheered the nation, has also been blocked from the development programme in England.
He had been set to accompany the cricketers to help him gain vital experience to prepare his team for the 2019 ICC Women World Twenty20 Qualifier in Scotland, next month, where it now looks likely the Lady Chevrons might not take part.
The top two teams from that tournament, set for August 31 to September 7, will join Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the 2020 ICC Women Twenty20 World Cup between February 21 and March 8.
Last week, the ICC suspended this country’s membership, froze funding and barred all the country’s national teams from taking part in events under their supervision.
The ICC decision, which has been heavily criticised by many because of its devastating effects on the country’s second biggest sporting discipline, followed the boardroom battles between the Sports and Recreation Commission and the Zimbabwe Cricket board.
The ICC have ordered that the suspended ZC board, led by Tavengwa Mukuhlani, should be reinstated, within three months, pending a review of their decision, to suspend Zimbabwe’s membership, in October.
So far, the Lady Chevrons have borne the brunt of the sanctions from boardroom drama.
Their tour of Ireland was called off, because there were no funds to bankroll it in the wake of the stand-off, and the freeze of the ICC funding, while they are now unlikely to feature in the final leg of their battles to try and qualify for next year’s ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup.
Now, four of their leading lights, and their coach, have also been blocked from pursuing a development programme laid out by the ICC.
Mushangwe, the 23-year-old all-rounder who took 10 wickets, the most scalps at the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa in Harare in May, has appealed to Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, to intervene and help break the impasse between the SRC and ZC.
“@KirstyCoventry, as a former sportsperson, you understand the joy & pride in representing your country,’’ tweeted Mushangwe. “You understand how much it takes to succeed as a female athlete — all the sacrifice & challenges faced.
“Please, help your fellow sisters, “Lady Chevrons.’’
Team skipper Musonda said she was gutted.
“I’m gutted,’’ she wrote on Twitter. “This is wrong and unjust. We can’t be the team that almost made it. No! Do the right thing. We are bleeding to death. You are watching.’’
Her national teammate, Sharne Mayers, who captained the Lady Chevrons at the 2017 Women Cricket World Cup Qualifier two years ago, and was the leading run-scorer, with 216 runs in the successful Africa Qualifier in May this year, had already declared her ultimate mission was to lead her country at the World Cup.
“Playing in a World Cup is the ultimate goal. It is something that I really want to achieve before I retire from the game,’’ she said in an article featured on the ICC website.
“I have worked bard for this.’’