Pakistan in Zimbabwe 2013 September 16, 2013

Bowling coach among Zimbabwe's top priorities


Acquiring the services of a bowling coach will be one of Zimbabwe's top priorities as they look to build for future international series. The squad has had to do without a specialist in that department since April, when Heath Streak's contract was not renewed because of financial concerns, and new coach Andy Waller is keen to fill the gap as soon as resources allow for it.

"There is no talk of getting a bowling coach at the moment but we need one. When we are able to, we will try and get someone who can run specialist clinics," Waller said after Zimbabwe's historic series-levelling win against Pakistan. The victory was largely credited to the pace pack, who defended 264 on a pitch that, against expectations, became easier to bat on in the final two days. 

Waller admitted he was pleasantly surprised by the seam bowlers in particular, who he had "concerns" about before the series began. His worry was that without attacking bowlers like Kyle Jarvis and Graeme Cremer, they would struggle to take wickets. But the foursome of Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara, Shingi Masakadza and Brian Vitori showed they were up to the task despite, as Brendan Taylor pointed out after the match, the absence of a bowling coach. 

Chatara, who impressed on debut in West Indies, showed considerable progress as he led the attack. "He has recognised that he was the senior bowler and he played like one," Waller said. 

Panyangara was, according to Hamilton Masakadza who led in the first Test, an unexpected workhorse whose consistency and economy rate were stellar while Vitori came back to the longest format looking more determined than he had before. "Leaving him out of the first Test gave Vits a little kick and it was good for him. He came back looking like he wanted to get wickets," Waller said.

Given that Shingi Masakadza, who made way for Vitori, also put in a good performance in the first Test, the level of competition among the bowlers has left with much to work with. "We've got a good crop of fast bowlers and we're in a good place right now," Taylor said. 

How Zimbabwe will continue mentoring that group is the next challenge because the current crop was all nurtured by Streak. Without him, they've had to rely on the advice of other players and some old-fashioned DIY, as Chatara confirmed. "I've just been trying to work myself into international cricket and in that way I got more experience," he said. "Playing Bangladesh earlier in the year helped a lot as well because they are on the same level as us and it helped prepare for this series." 

Former national player Gary Brent has been helping the young bowlers in the national academy, who also train at the Harare Sports Club. Chris Mpofu, who is recovering from injury, has also sought Brent's advice as he looks to make his comeback. Mpofu himself has been meting out mentorship to the likes of Chatara and Vitori, who are eager to learn from his experiences. 

But Zimbabwe cannot continue to rely on the generosity of former players and Waller seemed to indicate a more permanent appointment needs to be made soon. For that, they will need to be able to afford one. Funding was the primary reason behind Streak no longer being involved. 

He is still in the country but has recently started coaching at Falcon College, one of the best-known cricketing schools in Zimbabwe and has plans to start his own academy. If offered a financially secure deal, he could be lured back. Zimbabwe's bowlers would not doubt welcome any attempt to re-involve him, especially as many of them credit Streak's coaching style and attention to detail with the progress they've made so far. 

Zimbabwe are also without a fitness coach, another casualty of the austerity measures Zimbabwe Cricket has been forced to put in place. Waller would like to see someone come in to take care of strength and conditioning but for now, he and fitness-obsessed batting coach Grant Flower are doing the job themselves. "They've got us fit and we are working pretty hard," Taylor said. "And we'll keep doing that."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ZCF on September 17, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    Like Chigumbura, pretty much all the current players in the squad are happy with just a coach&assistant. It's no wonder their game has improved leading to these wins. That money is better spent on other pressing needs.

    The culling of Streak(&Grant then) was the result of broad consultation. ZC issued statements to that effect, as well as reports by Zimbabwean media(independent not state). You will remember that Taylor retracted his silly statement where he claimed they were not consulted. He was likely sleeping during a meeting involving high profile figures - administrators, former players&current senior players including himself.

  • ZCF on September 16, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    The reason why Andy Waller got this job as Head Coach in the first place was because he said he didn't need one&could handle the bowling department remember!? There is no bowling coach at the moment, might that change? I don't feel I need a bowling coach right now. I've done a lot of work on bowling in the past. When required, I will try to bring in specialists to assist, probably from South Africa, because they are just next door.

    Results mean a specialist is NOT required. This means one of two things, either the seamers have succeeded inspite of Andy which is not unlikely since he's a substandard coach; or he has no confidence in his own abilities, since Grant is taking care of the batting. Mangongo is there as assistant coach, so either ZC fire Andy and employ a bowling coach, other than the divisive Heath Streak, who lest we forget was fired for for his cancerous conduct, or Andy just gets on with it and keeps quiet.

  • Asim on September 16, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    If they are winning without it then what is the need to spend so much money to hire a bowling coach.I think the first priority should be to get the players paid full salary and on-time without having to go to strike to get it.Secondly,enough resources to invite the international teams to play and travel in Zimbabwe.We recently saw that the matched was moved from Bulawayo to Harare and all matches were played at one stadium due to lack of funds and then Srilanka tour was also cancelled.

  • Rushi on September 16, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    how about ICC backed/funded coach for financially needy countries

  • Dummy4 on September 16, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    No, no, no!!! The ZC Board has got to go, that's the priority. We need people who are committed to running cricket properly in this country. It is embarrassing that we cannot host Sri Lanka because ZC does not have its' house in order. As long as this current board is in control, decent sponsorship will not be forthcoming. Which company wants their brand associated with a sullied image? Truly, the best thing for Zim cricket is for the current board to step down gracefully and make way for professional administrators with the good of the sport and its public at heart.

  • mahjut on September 16, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Do you know where the money goes Firdose? Don't these boards have to open their books to an audit - especially if they want more money handed to them? I guess there are a lot of things being attempted to right the sinking ship along with, one imagines, a lot of basic admin failure. But unless we know, we will hate this board ... and blame them for all ills in Zimbabwe Cricket

  • pradipto on September 16, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Why can't CLT20 be hosted in ZIM or its surely upto ICC to provide them with financial assistance for hiring a bowling coach. Cricket world is crying out for more teams and ZIM and Ireland need to be supported or else cut this crap that we want to globalise the game. To expect BCCI for generosity for the game is living in fools paradise. In another decade the way cricket is losing ground in the other countries, we might have a triangular with three teams from India itself being more competitive than an international Triangular series. Wake up before this 8 team sport becomes a 5 team one.

  • Avinash on September 16, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Why does BCCI not organize a Champions league in Zimbabwe for one year; it will help the board a lot. It is so frustrating that the ZIM board cannot sponsor Streak who, I am sure, would not be asking much. If the CLT20 can be taken to SA for ego issues why not it be taken to Zim for more sane reasons?? By the way I am an Indian.