Andy Waller to take over as Zimbabwe coach in May
Andy Waller has confirmed that he will begin his new job as Zimbabwe's head coach on May 1. Waller has just returned to the UK from Sri Lanka, where he was on a tour with the Eastbourne College first team, which he currently coaches.
In an email from the school, Waller told ESPNCricinfo that he will arrive in Zimbabwe on April 15 and will begin work the next month. Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have yet to officially announce his appointment.
Waller will not be involved in the two Tests against Bangladesh, but will take over for the ODIs and Twenty20s, which start on May 3. Stephen Mangongo will be in charge at the start of the tour and will continue in his role as assistant coach under Waller.
Grant Flower, the batting coach, has been involved in preparations for the series but there is no word on the future of Heath Streak, the bowling coach, whose contract expired on March 31, along with that of former coach Alan Butcher. It is likely Streak will continue as a bowling consultant, because none of the three coaches currently involved have expertise in that discipline, but the decision is yet to be made.
Streak and Flower were pushed to the fringes of Zimbabwe's structures when they were left at home during the recent tour to West Indies because of a change in ZC's touring policy. The decision irked captain Brendan Taylor, who said at the time, that the team needed the pair's experience especially when away from home. Zimbabwe went on to lose all seven matches, across all formats, in the Caribbean.
The team has not played at home since late 2011 when they made their Test comeback, and hosted Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand, and have endured a tough year in-between. Things do not appear to be getting any easier in the lead up to the busy home programme, which includes home series with Bangladesh, India (for three ODIs), Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
As most of Zimbabwe's inbound tours take place during the winter, those franchise cricketers who are not centrally contracted often look for opportunity to play club cricket in the UK in order to make some money. A group of those players approached ZC about their financial situation and asked for winter contracts as security, but a source close to the situation said their request had been denied. Instead, ZC has only made provision for a small daily allowance.
As a result, many of those players have indicated they will continue to pursue money-making opportunities overseas and not stay at home through the winter. That will leave Zimbabwe with only the 15 centrally contracted players to choose from while most of their next best will be unavailable. Should injuries or poor form strike, Zimbabwe could be in a dire situation with a lack of cricketers to play matches.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent