Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
LORYN Phiri could not have asked for a better start to the year than being recognised as one of the best female cricket players in the world.
Her story is one that could inspire generations.
The 22-year-old spin bowler was this week selected into the International Cricket Council Women’s Twenty20 International Team of the Year.
She is one of three African players on the list, with others being the South African duo of Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp.
England dominated the women’s Team of the Year with five players in the squad of 11.
Phiri grew up in Bulawayo’s Emakhandeni suburb and her interest in the game was borne out of visits to Emakhandeni Cricket Club, which she then joined and slowly perfected her skill until eventually breaking into the national women’s team at the age of 20 in 2018.
“I started playing cricket at Emakhandeni Primary School when I was 13-years-old and doing Grade 7 in 2011 after an announcement was made at assembly that there was a coach to introduce cricket.
Curiosity was what drove everyone who attended the very first session.
From there l never looked back. Before that, my brother would watch rugby and cricket at home, but l never found both interesting.
I would prefer to watch cartoons instead,” said Phiri.
Phiri also played for Tuskers Under-13 in the same year that she started playing the game, Emakhandeni and the Mountaineers franchise, and recalls how she felt after her first national team call up.
“My first national team call-up was in 2018 versus Ireland.
I remember l was scared. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
But l was also excited at the same time for getting that opportunity.
To date I am really grateful.
My best international game has to be when I played against Pakistan. I had always watched them from the small screen and being with them on the same field was a dream come true,” Phiri said.
She says her success in the game is built on the support she gets from her family.
“My mum has always been supportive of me playing cricket.
I believe her involvement in me taking part in sport was a way of keeping me out of trouble.
I would come back from school then go for my sessions at Emakhandeni Cricket Club and that became my daily programme.
“My mother has always been my support system.
She didn’t understand the game at first, but she ended up getting more interested and buying the whites and any other thing that l needed.”
Nicknamed ‘Mancane’, Phiri played nine T20Is for Zimbabwe last year and claimed a stunning 16 wickets, including best figures of 5 for 6 against Botswana in the 2021 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier.
Her bowling average were a spectacular 7.18.
“I was given the nickname ‘Mancane’ by my grassroots coach Vincent Dhururu.
There were two of us, actually l was the youngest, so it got confusing every time we were called so he stuck to calling me Mancane.
I have embraced the name since then.
“The sport can be taxing mentally.
It takes a lot out of you and the most important part is to have a strong support system.
Also, God always makes a way when things get tough.
One of the most important things I have learnt is that no one is bigger than the game, never let anyone make you think less of yourself.
“To ladies out there, don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.
Keep working on your craft, be patient, good things always come to those who wait and remember it’s your genuine sweat that will get us through.
Most of all be yourself,” said Phiri.
Article Source: The Chronicle