Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Harare August 31, 2013

Top order let team down, says Waller

ESPNcricinfo staff

Andy Waller, the Zimbabwe coach, admitted that recent run-ins with Zimbabwe Cricket had affected the morale of the players, but the situation was not a factor in their 108-run defeat, and subsequent series loss, to Pakistan in the third ODI in Harare.

The Zimbabwe players aborted training on Friday morning over unpaid dues and have also set Zimbabwe Cricket a deadline, which could put a cloud over the two-match Test series.

"We talked about it and we obviously went out there and gave a 100%," Waller said after the match. "But unfortunately the situation, and the way it all went about yesterday, it doesn't matter who you are, it's all going to be in the back of your head. And without making excuses, because Pakistan played damn good cricket, it's very hard to say to the guys, 'Please, let's just try and focus today, concentrate on cricket and forget about what's happened'. Unfortunately, it's always going to be there. You need to be incredibly mentally strong to push it aside, which I am not sure can be done."

Having beaten Pakistan in the first ODI, expectations were high for Zimbabwe to pull off a rare series win. However, a top-order collapse, which saw them lose four wickets for 21 runs, made it difficult to chase the target of 261 after their bowlers had done a good job.

"When I spoke to the guys at the break, I said to them, we probably could have chased down 260," Waller said. "So, we believed that we could do it. Unfortunately, we went there and some of our senior players in the top order didn't play the shots that should have been played and that was the problem, I think."

Waller also commended the side for the self-belief they had shown, stating that the series against India and now Pakistan were important learning experiences.

"I think, we lost today but we gained a huge amount since India have come. Against India, the first two games were okay, then we didn't play well. And to then come back, for our guys to believe they could have beaten Pakistan tells me that our guys have suddenly got the belief and I think we showed during the series that we have got some quality cricketers," he said. "I think it's the mental side we need to improve on and it's very difficult, with the little cricket we are playing, to learn to handle the pressure, because basically, pressure got to us today.

"Pakistan have a world-class bowling attack and I think the way we played them in the T20 and in the first two ODIs, we showed that we could play their quality bowlers, we showed that we could play their quality spinners and we did that and that's all added to huge belief for our guys. I think that we can do more on a slightly more regular basis."

With the current scenario of delayed player dues and issues with ZC, Waller admitted there was little he could do to help players, except get them to focus on cricket.

"I am trying to do the best I can as far as the players' side of it is concerned. Unfortunately, I have no control over the other issues that are going on. I have just got to try and get them to push those problems away as much as they can and focus on the cricket, which is really the only thing I can do and just hope they can try and be mentally strong to be able to handle that situation."