Three years ago, Mary-Anne Musonda returned home after completing her studies, to give herself a chance a cricket career.
Musonda had no idea, she would become an elite sportswoman-touring the world-sharing changing rooms with world class cricketers.
“I did not think I would go this far. All I went with was passion for the game and the potential I saw in myself. It turned out well, I guess,” Musonda tells The NewsReport in an interview.
After high school,she had moved to South Africa to pursue a degree in Business Finance at University of Kwazulu Natal and like any young lady her age, fancied future in the corporate world.
There, she kept her cricket dream alive, practicing during study breaks. Soon her exploits with the bat earned her a spot in the KwaZulu Natal inland team.
“What my mum who happens to be my biggest supporter and adviser told me is that it is good to have options in life. So as much as I am passionate about cricket, I should find an option, in case I didn’t make it to the highest level,” she says.
“She advised me to pursue school. It made sense for me, so I found it easy to balance the two. I decided to put my head down and go for it.”
After her honour’s degree, Musonda returned home to look for a job, but she couldn’t, so she decided to keep learning.
Now with a master’s in development finance from the University of Capetown, Musonda says she can now concentrate on cricket.
“I finished my third degree, now it’s just cricket.”
“A little birdy might whisper in your ear that I am doing a short course in sports management with the University of Cape Town (UCT). I’ve not yet decided where I would want to be. But I am just keeping my options open,” the 30-year-old Zimbabwe Lady Chevrons captain who is among only six players to score a century on her debut says.
The Dubai Experience
Riding high after the ICC, gave Zimbabwe ODI status in April last year, Musonda became the first Zimbabwean player to take part in the Fairbreak T20 Tournament in Dubai.
Playing two out of six matches for the Tornadoes, Musonda had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best cricketers from Full Member and Associate countries.
“Dubai was a great experience, probably the highest level of cricket I have played, with elite athletes. It was such an amazing and different feeling, just to see how other women are excelling, how they approach the game. Each moment was special, I would learn from the time we wake up, meeting and hanging out with the teammates,” Musonda says.
“You can see that they have a different life. Their approach to things is very professional. I have a lot of respect for them. Obviously, they have put in a lot of work in their game. They concentrate and excel in cricket.
“It is just a stimulating environment, you are always on your toes, amazed and surprised all the time. But I was also learning,” she says.
Musonda relished the chance to bat with Tornadoes Captain Stephanie Taylor and Sophie Divine.
“It was fantastic, just to have conversation and them explaining how they do things.
“I took out a lot of lessons. Out of six games I played two. I was so excited just to get a chance to play there, under lights-it was my first time to play under lights and just being handled like an elite athlete,” the Lady Chevrons skipper says.
“I think the Fairbreak Invitational Organisers really did a great job with that. It was a beautiful two weeks; my eyes were lightened up each time.”
She hopes more local cricketers would get an opportunity to play at the highest level.
“I hope we will have a couple of girls in the squad next year, to get that experience and exposure. It changes the person you are.”
The World Cup Dream
Zimbabwean women’s cricket has been on a steady rise over the years, producing great players like Precious Marange, Modester Mupachikwa among others.
The southern African country now has a fighting chance to qualify for the World Cup. Musonda believes the future of women’s cricket is bright despite the challenges.
“I think we are on a rising trajectory. With the way we have been performing in the last couple of years, it shows we have a fighting chance to go to the world cup. It is something we always talk about in the changing room. We are always trying to horn our skills so that we are up to scratch when we go to the qualifiers,” Musonda says.
“What we are fighting for is to be first team to go to the World Cup and we do want to achieve that as soon as possible.”
Women’s cricket has also seen brilliant young cricketers rising through the ranks, to fight for a spot in the senior squad.
Youngsters like 16-year-old, Kelis Ndhlovu was a revelation in The Capricorn Tri-Sieries held in Namibia two months ago, won by Zimbabwe.
“We have the franchise games, so you realise that in all these squads there are three or four under 19s. So, we are trying to get them as much experience as possible so that when they are alone, they know what to do,” she says.
She adds that the transition with new coach Garry Brent,” has been good.”
“The girls have really accepted his philosophy and the way he does things. We share a common goal to make sure we measure up to the qualifiers.”