“It was tricky to miss out on the last 50-overs World Cup. It was disheartening and painful not to be playing the last T20 World Cup as well. I think the senior players were more relieved than happy [to qualify for this year’s World Cup].”
– Sikandar Raza
Zimbabwe’s cricket scene is improving. Before departing for Australia for the T20 World Cup, Bangladesh and India will tour the nation. Zimbabwe will also be present thanks to a strong showing in the international qualifiers. It took four years to prepare for this moment. They had been disappointed to have missed the 2019 World Cup following a close loss in the home qualifiers, having missed the previous two major international championships. Sikandar Raza and others are, therefore, “more relieved than happy” at this point, which makes sense.
“It is nice to be playing one more World Cup before I hang up my boots. It was tricky to miss out on the last 50-overs World Cup. It was disheartening and painful not to be playing the last T20 World Cup as well. I think the senior players were more relieved than happy [to qualify for this year’s World Cup]. There was a lot on our shoulders. There was a lot that was to be done by the core group of players. To see all of us achieve that is the most satisfying part of going to Australia.”
“We would have never settled for only qualification,” he said. “Our first target was to qualify, but we targeted winning five out of five games. Without a question, we wanted to win the final. It was very important for us to become champions. It is a different feeling to be champions of some tournament. It was amazing.
“Those emotions were always there. We couldn’t go to the World Cup by a margin of two [three] runs,” he recalled. “The nightmare of not being able to make it through the last qualifiers were always at the back of the head. The guys who were there in the previous qualifiers and now in the core group, tried to stay in the present.
“We tried to prevent those feelings from affecting us. Those feelings were there. We didn’t deny its presence. We just had to find a way to deal with them. Everybody had different ways to deal with them. The fact that we could do that and ended up qualifying, is relieving.”
“He [Muzarabani] came from very humble beginnings. He has tasted success but he is still a very humble boy,” Raza said. “He is very respectful. He will get better and better, and I believe he will be rewarded because he is such an honest worker.
“Richard Ngarava had a few setbacks due to injuries, but I believe he will follow Blessing Muzarabani sooner or later. He has good work ethic. He will be exposed to different T20 competitions.
“Wessly Madhevere is rising. Performances go up and down but I genuinely believe that he is growing as a cricketer. He will take Zimbabwe cricket forward. He will take it in the right direction. He is a very good kid. I will also mention Milton Shumba, a smart cricketer. He will have a role to play in the future.”
“Chatara has been the spearhead of the bowling department,” he said. “Unfortunately, he has broken his collarbone but we are praying that he is fit for the World Cup. Regis Chakabva is a senior guy as well. Very calm guy. We need him.
“We are happy to have Sean Williams back in the team. Craig is a silent soldier. He is calm and composed, a team man.”
“I thought with my old action it was slightly difficult to bowl variations,” he said. “I figured out that I lost a lot of strength in my shoulder following the surgery. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise. I hope I have better control of my variations in a year’s time. I also realise that my career economy in T20s and T20Is have come down.”
For now, Raza is looking forward to a busier phase for Zimbabwe. They first play Bangladesh – an opposition that has got the wood on them in recent times – in three T20Is since July 30 followed by as many ODIs. India will be there too.