Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
IRELAND women’s cricket team are expected in Zimbabwe today for the historic One Day International series in Harare next week.
The Irish, who are under the tutelage of former Ireland and England national team cricketer, Ed Joyce, left their base yesterday with a strong squad of 15 players.
The teams will play four ODIs, from next Tuesday.
All the matches will be played at Harare Sports Club.
This tour is crucial for both sides as it will be the first official ODI series for the Zimbabwe women since they were granted ODI status, in April this year.
These will also be the first ODIs played by Ireland Women since June 2018.
The tour precedes the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Global Qualifier that will be held in Zimbabwe in November.
The tourists believe the contests will present them with an opportunity to experience local conditions before the all-important tournament, next month.
“This tour will be an important part of our build-up to next month’s World Cup Qualifier, and will provide the squad with an excellent opportunity to experience playing conditions in Zimbabwe, and at a key host venue,” said Joyce.
“Our focus in recent months has been predominantly T20 cricket, so these fixtures are even more valuable to the players as a means of resetting their approach to take on the longer format, of the game.
“Several of the players in the squad were part of the 2018 side which toured Zimbabwe – and while that series suffered due to numerous rain-outs, the competitiveness, and quality of both sides were tested, and we expect that this series will be no different.”
The Irish squad will be without several players, through unavailability, but retains a strong core from the T20 squad, which featured in the Europe T20 qualifying tournament.
They finished second, in the tournament, and are hoping to get confirmation that they will progress to the Global Qualifier.
Zimbabwe won the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier, in Botswana, a few weeks ago.
They are expected to start preparations for their first ODI series today in Harare.
The Zimbabwe players are set to return into camp, after they had been given one week off to recover from the hectic schedule they had in Botswana, where they played seven matches, inside 10 days.
The victory earned them the ticket to proceed to the final global qualifying tournament for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup proper.
The series is part of the two sides’ preparations for the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021, set to be held in Harare, this November.
The tournament will decide the remaining three participants, for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, in New Zealand.
Zimbabwe Women and Ireland Women are among the 10 teams participating in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021.
The ODI games are scheduled for October 5, 7, 9 and 11 at Harare Sports Club.
Laura Delany (captain), Zara Craig, Georgina Dempsey, Sarah Forbes, Amy Hunter, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.