Botswana women eye World Cup berth
A historic battle between bat and ball is set to commence next week as Botswana host the ICC Women’s T20 Africa Qualifiers.
A place at the 2023 World Cup in South Africa awaits the winners of the 11-day cricket extravaganza, which will play out on the lush green grass of the BCA Oval in Gaborone from 9 – 19 September.
In their first ever ICC tournament, Botswana will be one of 11 nations looking to smash their way to glory in the explosive, fast-paced sport that is 20-20 cricket.
Currently ranked 40th in the world, the local ladies have been drawn in a tough group that includes: Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and the favourites Zimbabwe.
The top two teams will then qualify for the semi-finals, as will the winners and runners-up from the other group, which features: Eswatini, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon and Namibia.
Although they are confident they have the firepower to cause an upset, Team BW will have to be at their brilliant best if they are to make it to Mzansi.
Apart from Mozambique (49), the home team is the lowest ranked side in Group A, and will be up against a Zimbabwe outfit currently sitting 12th in the world rankings.
Despite the odds, Head Coach, Joseph Angara revealed the ladies were ready and raring to go, having started training for their date with destiny over five months ago.
“Our preparations started in April and it was followed by a tour to Rwanda in June,” disclosed Angara, adding although they failed to win a single game in East Africa, the experience was invaluable.
“The team have since been playing friendly matches with our Under 17 boys every Saturday and training during the week. So far, so good – they are keeping the pace so we are very positive,” continued the cricket coach, who has an injury-free, full strength squad to pick from.
While he was quick to acknowledge the pedigree of the opposition, Angara insisted past results will count for little once the competition starts.
“Countries that will be at the tourney are stronger sides. We have played with them before but it was two years ago so we cannot judge their strength based on this. But we are optimistic as we have done our homework as well and will take it one game at a time,” concluded the level-headed tactician.
Reiterating Angara’s confidence, captain fantastic, Laura Mophakedi told Voice Sport the hosts were going all out to conquer.
“With such limited time and resources, I believe we have utilized them the best we could and I am hopeful that we will do well. The team is okay physically and mentally thus putting us in a better position to emerge victorious,” declared the 23-year-old wicketkeeper, who is also a top order batter.
The confident captain believes home ground advantage will prove pivotal as the ladies know the conditions inside out.
“The morale is high as we are at home – it’s just such a shame there will be no spectators in the ground,” said Mophakedi.
Regardless of the lack of fans, the talented all-rounder’s excitement was obvious as she looks forward to what will be a landmark moment for women’s cricket in Botswana.
“The expectations are that we will get to the semi-finals at least as we will be competing against the powerhouses such as Zimbabwe and Uganda,” she closed cautiously.
With just a single World Cup spot up for grabs, expect fireworks as wickets tumble, bails fly, sixes reign and the winner takes it all.