Zim Cricket a marvel…ICC hails Zimbabwe . . .
THE International Cricket Council chairman Greg Barclay revealed yesterday he was blown away by the atmosphere and the organisation of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier hosted by Zimbabwe in the last three weeks.
The burning passion by the domestic cricket fans, who created a colourful atmosphere and an unforgettable ambience in the terraces, and the beauty that the country offers to the outside world, were on show despite the failure by the home team to progress to the final.
Had Zimbabwe made it to the final, which will feature Sri Lanka and the Netherlands at Harare Sports Club tomorrow, the curtain would have come down in a grander fashion.
Still, the country was yesterday praised for delivering a top-notch event by the visiting ICC boss, who is expected to be part of the crowd at Harare Sports Club tomorrow for the final.
“From the ICC’s perspective this has been a great tournament“We expected that it would be,” said Barclay.
The qualifying tournament, which had matches being played in Harare and Bulawayo, was the fourth global cricket event to be hosted in the country in the last five years. In fact, ICC have shown a huge vote of confidence in the leadership and organisational capabilities of Zimbabwe, who have also secured the rights to host the ICC under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2026 and the big ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup which they co-host with South Africa in 2027.
But the 2023 World Cup Qualifier event, which had many sold out games for the home side, has surpassed the 2018 edition, much to the delight of the ICC boss.
“Zimbabwe is a great place to host tournaments. It’s been magnificent. I think what really stood out for me was the support. The fans have been absolutely amazing. I saw a lot of that on television, the colour, the passion, the noise it was just brilliant. It’s great for cricket.
“At personal level, I have been here for four days now and the hospitality here has been absolutely wonderful. The people here are warm, friendly and casual enough.
“That augurs pretty well, we have ICC events here in 2026 and 2027 so the future in terms of bringing cricket to this country is really promising and it can only get better,” said Barclay.
Zimbabwe hosted nine teams during the Qualifier and the participating nations included Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands, Oman, Scotland, Sri Lanka, UAE, USA and West Indies.
Cricket, which used to be a minority sport not long ago, has been growing in leaps and bounds and is slowly becoming a mass sport like football.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani was also excited by the turn of events during the Qualifier.
“It’s our pleasure as ZC to host the tournament and to have these countries coming over,” he said.
“It was an interesting tournament, with four Full Members and to see some terrific performances from Associate members.
“For us it has increased game awareness, fan engagement has been great. You can’t fault our fans in terms of following their team and the understating of the game.
“It goes to show what a legacy such tournaments can leave behind in a country like ours where the game is developing and making it popular is our number one priority.”
Mukuhlani said Zimbabwe were looking forward to the upcoming ICC events to be held in the country after hosting rights were confirmed for the 2026 Under-19 World Cup and the 2027 senior men’s World Cup.
“Obviously we are very thankful to ICC for once again having confidence in Zimbabwe as a destination for the ICC events. We are looking forward to the next two events that are coming – the 2026 Under-19 World Cup and the main World Cup that we are joint hosts with South Africa and Namibia.”
Zimbabwe Cricket are set to open the gates free of charge to the spectators for the final match between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands tomorrow.
“Having seen the fans and the crowds in all the games here in Harare and Bulawayo, the final on Sunday will be free of charge. We expect the fans to come and support Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Congratulations to the two nations for making it to the World Cup.
“We would have wanted to be there but we celebrate their success and we are looking forward to more tournaments coming through. By and large we are satisfied as Zimbabwe for the way the tournament was hosted, the way it was planned and organised.
“On behalf of our Government we are very grateful to the ICC. Yes, we didn’t make it to India but I think there are a lot of positives to carry forward from the tournament.”
Zimbabwe crashed out of the running for the World Cup ticket after falling to a shock defeat to Scotland on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Union yesterday said they were thrilled by the opportunity to see global stars in their backyard, despite the sad ending for their own team.
“On Sunday (tomorrow) as Supporters let’s throng the Harare Sports Club in our numbers to say thank you to ICC for giving us an opportunity to host and watch several internationals stars in action.
“Let create history and memories together at HSC. The World must know that Zimbabwe is rising and has the best passionate supporters in the world,” said the ZSCU in a statement.