Outgoing coach says young team has a bright future August 31, 2007

Curran to head Zimbabwe Cricket Academy

Cricinfo staff

'I was presented with the youngest international squad in the history of the game and I am very proud of the way they have all developed' © AFP

Kevin Curran, the former Zimbabwe coach, has been appointed head of the country's cricket academy. Curran's coaching tenure began in September 2005 and ended with the recently concluded home ODI series against South Africa, after which he was replaced by Robin Brown, the former Zimbabwe captain.

In an interview to The Herald, a Zimbabwe daily, Curran reflected on his years in charge of the side and what the new role meant for him.

"When my contract ended, Zimbabwe Cricket asked me to rebuild and restructure the academy," Curran said. "It was a new venture and new challenge for me and one that would allow me to spend more time with my young family - something I have not managed to do of late because of all the travelling of international cricket."

Curran coached Zimbabwe for 42 one-dayers since taking over from Phil Simmons; in that period, the team won nine games and lost 28. Disputes between the board and its players led to the exodus of seniors like Heath Streak and the vacuum created by their departure saw the team plunge in world rankings. A self-imposed one-year suspension from Test cricket followed.

Despite the lows, Curran reflected on the positives and said he'd observed a genuine improvement in performance over the last two years.

"Everyone who has played for the country since I took over has improved in the true sense of the word," he said. "I am not one who looks at negatives. Coaching a young and inexperienced side, as I was doing, demanded constantly looking at the positives. I was presented with the youngest international squad in the history of the game and I am very proud of the way they have all developed."

Curran dismissed reports of a rift with Tatenda Taibu, the former captain who returned to the side after a premature retirement in November 2005. Taibu made an immediate impact on his return and made a fighting century in the third one-dayer against South Africa as Zimbabwe made a fist of the target of 324.

"Tatenda was not my player for very long because he left after I had just taken over. However, he came back a month ago and since then he has played his best cricket. His averages have more than doubled, his work ethic been outstanding, and he is one of the fittest in the team. He is always the last in the nets and is an excellent role model for our young team.

"If he can maintain this rich vein of form, he will develop into one of the finest cricketers Zimbabwe has produced. I cannot afford to have clashes or differences come between me and a player because I need all players to perform well for my team as that is what I am judged on."

Curran said that his last series in charge was one of the best moments in his coaching career. Zimbabwe recovered from a dismal 72 for 7 to post 206 in the first match in Bulawayo and then posted 247 and 323 in the next two.

"During the last series against South Africa, ranked second in the world, all the players showed their class. They showed character and passion - something for which I have been working for some time. These players were really at the top of their game. Their future is bright as results will follow if they continue in this vein."