Most of the news in the mainstream media has been about the record-breaking runs conceded and low totals scored by Mali so it was easy to forget that Tanzania took the trophy after going undefeated throughout the event.
In 2001 at the start of international women’s cricket among the three East African nations of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, Tanzania was the dominant side. They had a well drilled, youthful side.
They dominated the regional tournaments for a long time, unfortunately during those early years there was nothing more to play for beyond bragging rights among regional neighbours. By the time ICC qualifying tournaments came around, life had caught up with most of the good players from that golden generation, with Kenya and Uganda stealing most of the shine in recent years.
Those who have only started following women’s cricket in the region recently might think that Tanzania upset or surprised many in Rwanda, but that is not the case. At the ICC Women’s qualifiers in May in Zimbabwe they showed that they were a side on the rise again with some eye catching performances, only falling behind eventual tournament winners Zimbabwe in Group A.
Making their maiden appearance at the Kwibuka tournament the Tanzanians swept aside favorites Uganda in the opening game of the tournament by 5 runs. They then followed it up with convincing wins against hosts Rwanda and fellow debutants Mali.
To prove that the 1st win was no fluke Tanzania defeated Uganda by 6 wickets in their second clash that guaranteed them 1st place. The rising stars from Tanzania are led by their inspirational captain Fatuma Omari Kibasu who leads from the front with the bat and has found support from Prince Zakayo and Monica Pascal as they seek to reclaim their old glory.
With both Kenya and Uganda going through generational changes Tanzania is finding form at the right time, the tournament in Zimbabwe in May was the 1st ICC competition for this playing group and the T20 International wins, and ranking points collected in Rwanda should give them a lot of confidence going forward. The challenge for Tanzania will be keeping the group together to make sure they are not distracted by things beyond the rope.
For now Tanzania is back on top of East Africa women’s cricket again, 20 years later.