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February 6, 2013
Zimbabwe's captain Brendan Taylor has labelled it a "step in the wrong direction" that coaching support staff will not travel with the team to the Caribbean for their series against West Indies later this month.
A change to the technical structure of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has resulted in smaller touring parties from now on. As a result, batting coach Grant Flower, bowling coach Heath Streak and fitness trainer Lorraine Chivandire will not travel with the side but will be involved in their pre-tour preparations. Zimbabwe have not played a Test or ODI since their tour of New Zealand in January and February 2012 and will be short of match practice.
"It's a massive concern not having Grant, Heath and Lorraine with us for the upcoming tour to the West Indies," Taylor said on his Facebook page. "For me personally as a captain and a batter, and I can speak on behalf of the others in the side, we are taking steps in the wrong direction by doing this."
Taylor was particularly worried about the absence of Flower, who was playing with the team until September 2010, and has since been in charge of the batsmen. Flower's dedication and experience, Taylor said, will be missed.
"We will never have a guy like Grant Flower ever again as a batting coach and this is how he is being treated. His work ethic is second to none. He is qualified as a level 4 coach (can't get any higher). I recall times where he has thrown to the guys from 9am through to 5pm for weeks on end. You might say that is his job, but no one will do it better.
"The bit of success that myself and others have had over the past couple of years, I put that down to Grant Flower. People are saying the preparation should have been done prior to the tour, that's correct. But preparation on tour is vital too, let alone their knowledge, advice and their experience that could be shared on a daily basis."
Despite Taylor's anxiety, he promised to lead the team as best he could but called for ZC to reconsider its new policy. "In saying this, all we hope is to do everyone proud and sincerely appreciate your support. Let's hope changes are made," he said.
When the country's sports minister, David Coltart, quoted the message, he asked Taylor whether the post was originally his. Taylor responded in the affirmative and said he "felt I had to say my view to all people. I am very concerned."
Coltart later told ESPNcricinfo: "I am concerned to note that although Zimbabwe Cricket state that they had consulted the players prior to making this decision it appears as if they did not, at the very least, consult the captain. Be that as it may I think that all measures possible need to be taken to build a cohesive spirit within the team in the build up to the tour to the West Indies, and I encourage Zimbabwe Cricket to bear that in mind in all the decisions they make.
"Given the concerns raised by the captain, concerns which the captain states are shared by the rest of the players, I trust that Zimbabwe Cricket will take their views into account and review this decision in the best interests of both cricket and Zimbabwe. This tour is not just about cricket but about the positive branding of Zimbabwe as a nation. For that reason it is imperative that Zimbabwe Cricket always act in the national interest."
Taylor is one of the four Zimbabwean players currently at the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). Charles Coventry and Hamilton Masakadza are the other two who are a part of the squad to tour West Indies, while Elton Chigumbura was dropped from the national side. Although the tournament ends on February 19, a day before Zimbabwe's only warm-up match before the ODI series, the players will not leave the BPL early. They will fly directly to West Indies in time for the first ODI on February 22.
The tour is Zimbabwe's first full tour since their trip to New Zealand and is Alan Butcher's last as head coach. His contract expires in April and he has chosen not to reapply for his job. Flower is one of three candidates who were interviewed to replace Butcher. Assistant coach Stephen Mangongo, who is going on the West Indies tour, and Andy Waller, the former national batsman who coached Namibia, are the other two contenders for the job.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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