The Botswana Women’s cricket team, known as the Herons, has landed in Uganda to participate in the ICC Africa Div.1 Women’s T20i World Cup Qualifiers.
The tournament commenced on December 8 and is expected to end on December 18, 2023.
After securing a spot through qualification from the Division 2 tournament hosted by the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) in September, the Herons are set to face off against stiff competition in this eight-team event.
The participating teams are divided into two groups, with Group A comprising Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Botswana, while Group B features Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the host nation, Uganda. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals and eventually, the finalists will get a chance to participate in the Global Qualifiers scheduled for 2024.
In preparation for this crucial tournament, the Herons embarked on a significant journey to India in November. Sumod Damodar, the vice chairman of the BCA, highlighted the team’s immersive two-week training camp in Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA). He expressed gratitude to the Indian High Commissioner to Botswana, Bharath Kumar Kuthati, for facilitating this overseas training opportunity, marking a historic first for the team outside of Africa.
“The program in KSCA was quite intense, where they had played five games. The results were not in our favor, but the focus was on assessing the team’s progress and improvement based on the training sessions under the guidance of the coaches,” Damodar stated in a telephone interview with this publication.
Despite the challenging outcomes in India, Damodar emphasised the valuable experience gained by the team, considering it a stepping stone for improved performances in future tournaments, including the ICC Africa Div.1 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers.
Damodar underscored the team’s philosophy of not dwelling on the reputation of their opponents. He advised the Herons, particularly while in Uganda, to focus on the game at hand and avoid being weighed down by the legacy and past performances of their adversaries.
“The basic philosophy that any team should follow is to not consider the name of the opposition… It’s not about who we are playing with but how we play and perform,” Damodar asserted. He highlighted the team’s mental strengthening, attitude, game planning, and preparations as essential components of their strategy.
Looking ahead, Damodar acknowledged that qualifying for the Division 2 tournament (that was held in Botswana) was a significant achievement. “Now the expectation is that we are good enough to play against whoever we face,” he said. The ultimate goal for the Herons is to secure a spot in the top two of their group, progressing to the semi-finals, and ultimately making it to the finals of the tournament to qualify for the Global Qualifiers.
“Any ICC tournament is important and has merit on the program and status of the game, be it men or women. This particular tournament is a World Cup qualifier, so obviously it has a lot of significance. Qualifying from this tournament by finishing at least one or two and going to the global qualifiers, we are one step away from playing in the World Cup, which is quite great,” Damodar concluded.