Spare a thought for Young Lady Chevrons

22 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Spare a thought for Young Lady Chevrons

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema

FIGURES tend to lend legitimacy to the facts, so they say.

Therefore, the following titbits on Zimbabwe’s fairytale run at last year’s ICC T20 Men’s World Cup held in Australia are notable.

The total prize money for the tournament was a whopping US$5,6 million, and all 16 teams that participated were duly rewarded.

It goes without question that winners England bagged the coveted US$1,6 million prize, while runners-up Pakistan received US$800 000, exactly half the amount the winners got.

India and New Zealand, who lost in the semi-finals, received US$400 000, while the eight teams that exited at the Super 12 stage — Australia, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Afghanistan, South Africa, Netherlands, Bangladesh and, of course, Zimbabwe – took home US$70 000 each.

And the four teams that were knocked out in the first round — West Indies, Namibia, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates — received US$40 000 each, with an additional US$40 000 for every victory registered during the round.

Every win in the Super 12s was also worth an additional US$40 000.

So, the Chevrons took home roughly US$190 000, give or take.

These figures will begin to make sense when we analyse the abysmal performance of the women’s Under-19 team, or Young Chevrons, at the World Cup that is currently being held in South Africa.

To say the trip was a disappointment would be a gross understatement, what with the team being bowled out for 23 runs against England, losing four wickets in four balls against Rwanda and failing to post three figures in all their groups games.

It would, however, be unfair to attack these young ladies.

We should lay the blame at Zimbabwe Cricket’s feet.

But rather than apportion blame, let us take this sad chapter as a learning experience and resist the temptation to point fingers.

The Young Lady Chevrons were clearly ill-equipped, ill-prepared and out of their depth for a tournament of this magnitude.

I use the word “ill-prepared”, rather than “unprepared”, advisedly.

Yes, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) gave Trevor Phiri and his team plenty of time to prepare, some of which saw the team travel to India and South Africa.

Such time, effort and resources demand returns, and an early exit is hardly that.

It is arguably the quality of preparation that inevitably saw the team embarrassed and eliminated from the tournament early.

Being bowled out for 23 runs while chasing 199 does not mean the team are not talented or lack potential.

The four-wicket loss in four balls against Rwanda and the sub-par totals throughout the tournament also do not imply the team lack talent.

Rather, the situation exposes the gulf that currently exists between Zimbabwe and nations like England, Australia, Pakistan, India and New Zealand.

While players from these countries have the privilege of playing in competitive tournaments such as The Hundred (England), Big Bash (Australia) and Indian Premier League, the same cannot be said of their counterparts in Zimbabwe.

While we only have Pro50 and T20 competitions at senior level, age-group cricket does not have an active league or teams.

National team selectors naturally rely on schools cricket.

The Young Lady Chevrons went into the tournament seriously lacking competitive cricket, and the results speak for themselves.

I doubt the ordinary cricket enthusiast is familiar with Omtex ICWC.

This is one of the clubs the Young Lady Chevrons played against while in India for camp last year, which was part of their long road to the inaugural edition of the ICC Women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.

Exposure was another thing the team clearly lacked in South Africa.

With the exception of Kelis Ndhlovu and Michelle Mavunga, to some extent, none of the Young Lady Chevrons had been exposed to international or competitive cricket of this nature.

While the duo tried their best to carry the team, their opponents had twice as many players with just as much or even more       senior level and competitive cricket experience.

The trio of Grace Scrivens, Ryana MacDonald-Gay and Sophia Smale have caps with the England senior national team, and this is in addition to playing in the highly competitive tournament, The Hundred.

MacDonald-Gay and Smale won it with Oval Invincibles in 2022, while Hannah Baker and Scrivens were part of Welsh Fire and London Spirit, respectively.

Rwanda have played 44 T20Is, and Henriette and Gisele Ishimwe have featured in 44 and 43 of those, respectively.

The pair brought their experience in the Under-19 circuit, helping Rwanda Under-19 women win the Africa Qualifiers to make the inaugural T20 World Cup.

Apart from the duo, Belyse Murekatete also has experience of international cricket.

What this means is that the two, in addition to having senior level cricket experience, came to South Africa tried and tested by virtue of taking part in the Africa Qualifiers.

This is a far cry from Omtex ICWC, Northens versus Southerns games, as well as net and game situation scenarios that characterised the Young Chevrons’ preparations.

In fact, the only competent opposition the team faced were South Africa’s Under-19 side during their camp there.

The duo of Shawal Zulfiqar and Syeda Aroob Shah were the big names, with lots of experience for Pakistan.

While ZC will probably argue that they lack the financial backing such as that for England, Pakistan and New Zealand, among other countries, or structures like those found in India, Pakistan or even Bangladesh, there are ways around such problems.

While an active age-group league should be the endgame, they can go on a talent identification drive and slot some of these promising players into already existing clubs and franchises.

Better yet, they could mandate clubs and franchises to have both women’s and age-group teams.

They can also take a leaf from other sports like basketball and rugby, which used to adopt specific schools that would play under their banner.  More can be done to boost the profile of the women’s game.

The starting point involves channelling more money from the International Cricket Council grant into the women’s game.

Plans are afoot for the establishment of a T10 league, the Zim Afro T10, which is expected to kick off in March this year.

While details of the league itself, which is the first privately owned franchise league and has been established by Mulk International, are yet to be made public, there has also been no word of women’s teams taking part.

Share This: