Botswana women’s cricket team will look to improve on last year’s showing as they head to Rwanda for the annual KwibukaT20 tournament.
The tournament in its eighth edition since 2014, is played in remembrance of the 1994 genocide victims.
This year’s edition will draw eight teams from Africa, Europe and South America, with Botswana’s women also in the mix. It will be the first time that the tournament features teams from outside Africa.
Botswana will join hosts, Rwanda, defending champions, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Brazil and Germany in the fight for honours. The latter two will make their debut as the tournament grows from last year’s six teams. Out of the eight editions, Kenya has been the dominant side, winning four titles.
Botswana under coach, Reginald Nehonde, will look to improve on their 2021 debut showing where they had a nightmarish start to the contest and finished winless.
They only managed more than 100 runs once in their four matches, and suffered heavy defeats, particularly against Rwanda in the opening game where they folded to 29 all out in one of their lowest totals.
Nehonde is optimistic that despite a tough looking field, the girls will acquit themselves well. In fact, he said the aim is to win the tournament.
“We are planning to win the tournament,” he said, despite odds stacked against Botswana. It will be an audacious attempt from recording no win last year to picking up the trophy this time around.
The tournament has big hitters in Kenya and Nehonde admits Botswana is among the underdogs.
“We are the under dogs looking at all the teams but we are not far away from other countries Germany, Uganda, Kenya are tournaments top teams but in ladies cricket anything can happen the gap is not so big compared to men’s cricket,” he said.
Nehonde has picked an experienced squad, but included two Under-19 players Amantle Letuba and Katlego Mpuang to give them exposure at senior level. He said the squad, due to a limited pool, picks itself. Nehonde said due to Covid-19 disruptions, some of the players had quit the game.
“We don’t have a vast amount of girls’ cricket so the team is not that difficult to select. Another challenge we had is the three-year gap due to Covid. It’s a major setback as most girls no longer play the game but fortunately we are now up and running,” he said.
“We have also started preparing our Under-19 team. We selected two Under-19 girls that are traveling to Rwanda mainly for experience purposes before girls Under-19 World Cup qualifiers at the end of year,” he added.
The tournament runs from June 9 to 22 in Kigali.
Laura Mophakedi, Shameelah Mosweu, Florence Samanyika, Olebogeng Batisani, Thapelo Modise, Tebogo Motlhabaphuti, Katlego Mpuang, Amantle Letuba, Tuelo Shadrack, Goabilwe Matome, Oratile Kgeresi, Onneile Keitsemang, Thandiwe Legabile, Mimmie Ramafifi