Zimbabwe are in Group B of the ICC World Cup Qualifier on home soil, hoping to qualify for the main event for the 10th time.
Zimbabwe, at No.11 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, are used to being a part of the ICC Cricket World Cup, having featured at every edition since 1983. For the 2019 tournament, though, they must earn their place by going through a tough-looking qualifier. They have the advantage of being the host nation, giving them the opportunity to display their best cricket in familiar conditions.
19 February – lost to Afghanistan by 146 runs in Sharjah
16 February – lost to Afghanistan by 10 wickets in Sharjah
13 February – lost to Afghanistan by 6 wickets in Sharjah
ICC CWCQ Group B
4 March – Nepal, Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
6 March – Afghanistan, Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
10 March – Hong Kong, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo
12 March – Scotland, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo
Squad: Graeme Cremer (capt), Tendai Chatara, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor (wk), Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Cephas Zhuwao
Zimbabwe have recalled Sean Williams, the middle-order batsman and left-arm spinner, who can draw on the experience of 111 ODI appearances, and the 33-year-old Cephas Zhuwao, whose international experience is limited to a solitary ODI back in October 2008 and five T20Is. The pair were brought in to replace Ryan Burl and Tarisai Musakanda.
In their most recent bilateral ODI series, Zimbabwe lost 4-1 to Afghanistan, who they will meet in Group B.
World Cup history
Zimbabwe became an Associate Member of the ICC in 1981 and made a mark in their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup appearance in 1983 when they beat Australia by 13 runs in their first game. They have played in every edition of the competition since then, and achieved their best finish – reaching the Super Sixes – in the 1999 and 2003 tournaments.
What needs to go right for Zimbabwe to qualify?
With Heath Streak as head coach and Lance Klusener as the batting coach, there is much quality among the backroom staff. On the field, there is lots of experience in the form of Hamilton Masakadza, Williams, Sean Ervine, Brendan Taylor and Graeme Cremer, the captain. Taylor in particular is a key man, with a wealth of experience of high-pressure international cricket: his back-to-back centuries at the Cricket World Cup in 2015 constitute the finest individual performance by a Zimbabwean in the tournament's history.
It hasn’t always come together for Zimbabwe in recent times, but they do have the quality in their ranks to challenge the best on their day. They will hope to get their game plans working smoothly, especially against Afghanistan, ranked above them in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings at No.10. On paper, that appears to be Zimbabwe’s toughest test in the first phase of the qualifiers.