It has been a difficult two years for the Zimbabwe women’s cricket team, but Captain Mary-Anne Musonda’s century of her winning One-Day International (ODI) debut for the team gives hope for a much better future.
Musonda, who scored 103 unbeaten in Tuesday’s victory against Ireland, has been on the side of the best and the worst times, but finally looks to the future with optimism.
Not just on the pitch but also off, as Zimbabwe hosts the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup Global Qualifying Tournament in November and December.
“It has been a roller coaster to be frank,” Musonda told BBC Sport Africa.
“When I look back on how far we’ve come since 2019, we have so much more to celebrate now.”
The journey continued on Thursday as Zimbabwe lost the second of their four ODIs against Ireland, with Musonda brought down to earth when he had only managed four points.
Still, resilience is a hallmark of this team as Musonda and his teammates could easily have thrown in the towel on multiple occasions.
The Lady Chevrons missed the World T20 2019 World Qualifiers when Zimbabwe Cricket has been suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for government interference on the eve of their departure.
Then 2020 seemed like a wasted year with inactivity due to Covid-19 and their journey to the global qualifying phase for the 50-year-old Women’s World Cup canceled in July of last year as the tournament was postponed.
Musonda still remembers their last minute cancellation of their T20 World Qualifier trip to Scotland in 2019, after hosting and winning the African qualifier.
“I remember the disappointment vividly, how helpless we were too, because nothing would change for us then – it was a bitter moment,” she said.
“Then 2020 was another year of doing nothing. I always felt like every time we had to go on tour, something would happen.
“Competition is what makes you better, what you look forward to. When it was taken from you twice, it was a disappointment to us.”
The team was granted ODI status by the ICC in April, which means they now play at the highest level in women’s cricket.
And how Musonda shone on the squad’s opening day, playing a variety of punches in a four-wicket win over Ireland in Harare.
“It was like all the negative emotions of the past two years were behind us, and winning and for me winning a century was amazing,” she smiled.
“It would be easy to give up our dream”
After winning the African qualifiers in Botswana in September, Zimbabwe will host the global qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup in November and December with the participation of 10 teams. The top three teams will go to the final next year.
With countries like Pakistan, the West Indies and Sri Lanka taking part in the tournament, it will be a challenge for Zimbabwe, but Musonda is hopeful.
“It means a lot to be a host, and playing under our conditions at home will be an advantage,” she said. “Getting ODI status and winning our first game puts us in a good position to give us confidence.
“Playing the home playoffs is a boost, we are in the right direction, we hope we continue on a positive trajectory and continue to learn a lot of lessons along the way.”
“We have stayed together as a team, and we have to keep dreaming, keep believing and keep moving forward – it could have been easy for us to give up on our dream two years ago.”
Ahead of those qualifiers, Zimbabwe can win their first ODI series – with two games to go in Harare, Saturday and Monday, and the score finely balanced at 1-1.