Zimbabwe fails to qualify for T20 World Cup as African nation’s sad downfall continues

Zimbabwe fails to qualify for T20 World Cup as African nation’s sad downfall continues

There were scenes of jubilation in Windhoek overnight, with Uganda defeating Rwanda by nine wickets to qualify for next year’s Men’s T20 World Cup.

The Ugandan cricketers danced and chanted in the outfield after Thursday’s historic triumph, spurred on by coach Ogwang Jackson Oyuku; a clip of the team’s celebrations has been viewed more than 630,000 times on Twitter.

The African nation, which before last week had never faced a Test-playing nation, will feature in next year’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and United States, qualifying alongside Namibia. It marks the first time Uganda has qualified for a senior World Cup in either format.

“It is pretty surreal,” Uganda captain Brian Masaba said.

“I can’t put words to the emotions we are feeling now as a team. It’s massive for Ugandan cricket and huge for African cricket, especially, for a country like Uganda to make it to the World Cup.”

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The cricket world celebrated Uganda’s unexpected feat, but also lamented the sad downfall of one of its rivals.

Zimbabwe, the only full member participating in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier, was expected to cruise through the tournament, earmarked as heavy favourites to top the standings.

However, after suffering shock losses to Namibia and Uganda last week, Zimbabwe will be the only Test-playing nation that won’t feature in next year’s 20-team T20 World Cup.

Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton described the seven-wicket loss to Namibia as “embarrassingly bad”, but the astonishing defeat against Uganda will be remembered as one of the lowest points in the nation’s sporting history.

“I have just spent quite a bit of time in the changeroom with the team after that game and, when you ask what went wrong, as far as I am concerned, we got everything wrong,” Houghton continued.

“We were awful today … I think it’s probably one of the worst games that I have ever been associated with in a Zimbabwean jersey.

“Why it happens, I have absolutely no idea. We train hard, we train with specifics. The guys worked really hard, they had enough energy coming into this game, but we batted poorly and followed that up by bowling poorly and our fielding was average.”

The Zimbabwe men’s cricket team. Picture: Twitter/@ZimCricketvSource: Twitter

Zimbabwe competed in last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, defeating Ireland and Scotland during the group stage before pulling off a massive upset in Perth, defeating eventual finalists Pakistan by one run in the Super 12s. The Zimbabweans also toppled a full-strength Australian side in an ODI last year, clinching a dramatic three-wicket win in Townsville.

However, these have been rare triumphs in an otherwise disappointing few years for Zimbabwean cricket.

Currently sitting at No. 11 on the ICC Men’s ODI rankings, Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the two most recent editions of the World Cup, thwarted by net run rate during the qualifiers on both occasions. They also didn’t participate in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates because Zimbabwe Cricket had been suspended at the time by the ICC for government interference in its cricket administration.

Zimbabwe would have automatically qualified for next year’s T20 World Cup if they didn’t finish bottom of the Super 12 group during last year’s tournament, but a three-wicket loss to Bangladesh in Brisbane, along with the Netherlands’ surprise victory over South Africa in Adelaide, sealed their fate.

Adding salt to the wounds, Zimbabwe won’t feature in the 2025 Champions Trophy either, with the ICC confirming that only the top eight teams from this year’s World Cup in India will participate.

“I don’t know what will happen when we get home,” Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said on Wednesday.


Hosts: United States, West Indies

Top 8 from 2022 T20 World Cup: Australia, England, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Next two highest-ranked nations: Afghanistan, Bangladesh

Europe Qualifier: Ireland, Scotland

East Asia/Pacific Qualifier: Papua New Guinea

Americas Qualifier: Canada

Asia Qualifier: Nepal, Oman

Africa Qualifier: Namibia, Uganda

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