ZIMBABWE cricket captain Graeme Cremer revelled in the “game of (his) career” after his side recorded a convincing 107-run victory over Ireland in their ICC World Cup Qualifier Super Six clash in front of a packed Harare Sports Club on Friday.
Cremer was superb with the ball as Zimbabwe, who had posted a modest total of 211 for nine, bowled Ireland out for 104 in a clinical performance that brought back fond memories when the national cricket side was a rising force in world cricket.
Zimbabwe next take on two-time World Cup winners West Indies tomorrow, knowing that one more win could be enough to clinch one of the last two spots for next year’s tournament in England and Wales.
It has been a remarkable turn of fortunes for the national cricket side that went into the crucial ICC World Cup Qualifier tournament, which began a fortnight ago, under immense pressure to do well in order to claim one of the two available tickets to the World Cup.
Morale was at an all-time low for Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak and his charges after a disappointing preparatory tour in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they were soundly beaten 1-4 in a one-day international [ODI] series by Afghanistan.
However, Streak and his men have against the odds managed to turn the team’s fortunes around displaying a never-die-spirit, which once made the national cricket side a darling of the fans in years gone by.
Who can forget the nail biting two-run victory against our nemesis Afghanistan at Queens Sports Club on March 6 or the sensational comeback against Scotland two days later, when Zimbabwe rallied from what looked like certain defeat to force a tie for a very crucial point, which they carried into the Super Six stage?
Zimbabwe’s heroics have no doubt charmed the local cricket fans who have responded positively by turning out in huge numbers firstly in Bulawayo and then in Harare on Friday to rally behind the team.
The team’s impressive results during the ongoing qualifiers have once again proved that there is no substitute for proper planning, hard work and sound preparations.
Credit should go to the Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led Zimbabwe Cricket, who played their part to ensure the national team gets all the game time they needed ahead of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.
Two weeks before the qualifiers, the Chevrons played Afghanistan on neutral territory in Sharjah, UAE, and although they lost 4-1, the preparations were solid.
Before the UAE tour, the team had also played a four-day day/night Test against South Africa before taking on Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh in a triangular ODI series.
More importantly, ZC made a successful bid to ensure the country hosts the ICC World Cup Qualifiers so that the team could enjoy home advantage.
All the efforts by ZC have so far paid dividend and the national cricket team now stands on the cusp of booking one of the tickets to the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales next year.
What’s left is for the team to finish the job in the last two matches.