Sikander Raza of Zimbabwe – ‘The nightmare of not qualifying for the 2019 World Cup never went away’

Looking for cricket in Zimbabwe. Bangladesh and India are set to tour the country before heading to Australia for the T20 World Cup. Zimbabwe will be there too. Dominant performance in world qualifying has ensured that. This moment has been in the making for four years. They have missed the last two world events, having suffered the heartbreak of missing out on the 2019 World Cup after narrowly losing in qualifying on home soil. It is therefore understandable that Sikander Raza and others are “more comfortable than happy” at this point.

It was a difficult period, as many of their top players were uncertain about their future. Someone was satisfied. In the last qualifiers, he had numbers 4 vs 8 against the Netherlands in the final. Every time he took a wicket, the Bulawayo crowd was unruly. Naturally, both teams were guaranteed World Cup qualification once they won the semi-finals.

“It’s good to play again in the World Cup before I hang up my boots,” Reda told ESPNcricinfo. “It was hard to miss the last 50 World Cup matches. It was frustrating and painful not to play in the last T20 World Cup either. I think the top players were more relaxed than happy. [to qualify for this year’s World Cup]. There was a lot on our shoulders. There was a lot for the core group of players to do. Seeing us all make it happen is the most satisfying part of going to Australia.”

Reda said the goal was to do more than just qualify. They wanted to be the best among the teams in the playoffs to be ready for bigger things. A lot of that also came from the large crowds who showed up to watch them go back to where they thought they belonged.

“We wouldn’t have just qualified,” he said. “Our first goal was to qualify, but we aimed to win five out of five matches. Without question, we wanted to win the final. It was very important for us to become champions. It’s a different feeling to be champions for some tournaments. .It was great.

“The weekend crowd has always been great in Bulawayo and Harare. It was the biggest and loudest crowd I’ve ever seen in Bulawayo. Every time we took a part, the crowd just broke out. It was unbelievable.”

The sense of complacency also brought back memories of a similar time four years ago when Zimbabwe missed out on qualification. Reza was in the thick of things at the time, too.

“Those feelings were always there. We couldn’t go to the World Cup by two [three] He recalls, “The nightmare of not being able to get through the last qualifier was always in the back of the head. People who were in the previous qualifiers and now in the base group, tried to stay in the present.

“We tried to prevent these feelings from affecting us. Those feelings were there. We didn’t deny that they existed. We just had to find a way to deal with them. Everyone had different ways of dealing with them. The fact that we could do that and ended up qualifying, is comforting.”

Some of those who played in 2018 have settled into bigger roles within the Zimbabwean side. Speed ​​bowler Blessing Muzarabani is knocking on a lot of doors in the T20 arena, while youngster Wesley Madevir graduated to the first team within a month of his campaign at the U19 World Cup in 2020.

“It was hard to miss the last 50 World Cup matches. It was frustrating and painful not to play in the last T20 World Cup either. I think the top players were more relaxed than happy. [to qualify for this year’s World Cup]. “

Sikander Reda

“he is [Muzarabani] It came from very humble beginnings. “He has tasted success but he is still a very humble boy,” said Reda. “He is very respectful. He will get better and better, and I think he will be rewarded because he is an honest worker.

“Richard Najarava has had some setbacks due to injuries, but I believe he will follow Blessing Muzarabani sooner or later. He has a good work ethic. He will be exposed to different T20 competitions.

“Wessly Madhevere is going up. The performance goes up and down but I really think he’s growing as a cricketer. He’s going to take Zimbabwe cricket forward. He’s going to take it in the right direction. He’s a very good kid. I’ll also mention Milton Shumba, a smart cricketer. He’s going to have a role to play in the future.”

Zimbabwe also have a strong pool of experienced cricketers in the mix, thanks to Craig Irvin, Shawn Williams, Regis Chakapva and Tendai Shatara, who, with the exception of Raza, is out of action with a shoulder injury.

“Shatara was the spearhead in the bowling department,” he said. “Unfortunately, he broke his collarbone but we are praying that he will be fit for the World Cup. Regis Chakapva is a great player too. A very calm guy. We need him.

“We are delighted to have Shawn Williams back on the team. Craig is a silent soldier. He is calm and composed, a team man.”

“My first experience with Dave was great,” he said. “He has great confidence in his players. He has confidence in our abilities. Zulu [Lance Klusener, batting consultant] He was great with us the whole time. It’s great to have him back, he made a lot of difference in my career. shepherd [Makunura, fielding coach] and Stewart [Matsikenyeri, assistant coach] Fantastic too.”

Reda himself has been doing quite well over the past few years. A bone marrow infection last year meant he had to resort to a new bowling alley. Fortunately for him, it clicked.

“I thought from my old actions that it was a little difficult to change the differences,” he said. “I found out that I lost a lot of strength in my shoulder after the surgery. It might be a blessing in disguise. I hope to have better control of my changes within a year. I also realize that the economy of my career in T20s and T20s has gone down.”

For now, Raza is looking forward to a much busier stage in Zimbabwe. They play first with Bangladesh – an opposition that has taken hold of them in recent times – in three T20 matches starting on July 30 and followed by several open matches. India will be there too.

“It’s very exciting because now we’re looking at something,” Reda said. “All we are doing now is preparing for Australia. We want to be in the main tournament. We want to cause some disruption.

“We are trying to beat all these teams so we can create a culture, so that when we get to Australia we have a winning dressing room. It was great to see all the great players out there. [in the qualifier]. “

Muhammad Issam is the correspondent for ESPNcricinfo in Bangladesh. @ isam84

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: