Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket say they are almost through with their preparations to host a perfect tournament ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier B scheduled for Bulawayo next month.
The cricket jamboree is set to bring together eight teams from around the globe vying for the remaining two slots for this year’s ICC T20 World Cup finals to be held in Australia.
ZC managing director Givemore Makoni confirmed that the games will be staged at Queens Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club between July 11 and July 17. ICC are today expected to make an official statement on the tournament.
“We are excited,” said Makoni.
“From the information that I am getting, BAC is over 90 percent ready and Queens Sports Club is already 100 percent. We have hosted some international matches recently against Namibia and the venue is just excellent.
“So in terms of venue preparation, I think we are good as done. We are hoping to host a perfect tournament, just like we have done before. We are also expecting a good turn out by the fans and quality cricket from all the competing teams.
“We have held a number of global events successfully here in Zimbabwe in the past and I think we are now seasoned hosts. I am sure the ICC have been impressed by the way we conduct our business when it comes to tournament hosting.
“I think that is why they have continued to depend on us with these global tournaments,” said Makoni.
Zimbabwe are seeking to return to the T20 World Cup for the first time since 2016.
The Chevrons missed the previous edition due to a brief suspension by the ICC.
However, the build-up to the upcoming tournament qualifier has had many pitfalls.
Zimbabwe’s batting has been their biggest undoing. They struggled in their most recent international assignments against Namibia and Afghanistan.
The Chevrons suffered a shock 2-3 series defeat to Namibia before capitulating to a series whitewash in the five-match T20I series against Afghanistan.
The tours came on the back of the unsuccessful tour of Zimbabwe “A” to Nepal and the poor showing by the Zimbabwe XI side that hosted South Africa A concurrently last month.
In a bid to turn around fortunes, Zimbabwe have since turned to local legend Dave Houghton to lead the side in a reshuffle that saw former head coach Lalchand Rajput being kicked upstairs to the position of technical director.
Ex-South Africa international Lance Klusener has also returned to the technical department as batting coach.
Makoni yesterday said the team is set to embark in their final preparations, with the good news being the expected return of all-rounder Sean Williams and the massive progress made by injured players such as Wellington Masakadza and Richard Ngarava.
“In terms of preparations, I think we kicked off the process when we hosted South Africa A. We also had a team going to Nepal and then Namibia and Afghanistan were here for more ODI and T20I games.
“So in terms of game time, these guys have been given some opportunities to play. Over and above, there have also been some additions to the technical team. As you might be aware, there was a reshuffle recently, with Dave coming in as head coach and Lance Klusener joining the structures.
“We also had some injured players, and I think we missed seven of them during the Namibia tour and a couple against South Africa A, but I am glad to say they have made tremendous progress with regards to their recoveries.
“I think this has positioned us well ahead of the qualifier since we are the favourites to win the tournament,” said Makoni.
Zimbabwe are the favourites and they were placed in Group A along with USA, Singapore and Jersey. Group B comprises Hong Kong, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.
The Chevrons will kick off their campaign against Singapore on July 11, followed by a clash with Jersey and then end their group matches against USA on July 14.
The top two teams from the group will advance to the semi-finals, set for July 15.
Then the two teams that make it to the final will qualify for the ICC T20 World Cup finals to be held in Australia between October and November this year.
Already participating teams for the Qualifier have now taken their preparations a notch up, with Papua New Guinea and USA having named their squads for the tournament.
USA Cricket picked a 14-member squad to go on a preparation tour of Africa starting next week in the build-up to the Qualifier.
They are set to play two T20s against Namibia and Jersey in Windhoek beginning next Thursday.
Thereafter they leave for Zimbabwe where they have pencilled in two warm-up matches against the Netherlands in Harare.