Zimbabwe set for major changes
Of the many labels that can be slapped on Zimbabwe Cricket, modern, slick and well-functioning are not among them. The administration is caught in a debt spiral, the national team has barely enough fixtures to justify their Full Member status and the domestic structure that appears to be crumbling at the foundations but ZC may put all that aside as they look to implement a major restructure.
The two major areas under consideration are coaching and captaincy. ZC's cricket committee has suggested appointing a director of cricket to oversee all training programs and splitting the leadership role across formats. ZC's board will consider the proposals at a meeting on July 24 and an insider said they believed the recommendations will be ratified.
Practically, that will mean a shift in power in Zimbabwean cricket. Current head coach Andy Waller will likely be elevated to the director position which will leave him to oversee everything from development to the senior side but will strip him of direct authority over the national team, which is where the concerns begin to sprout.
"Theoretically it is a good idea but it should have been done when there were coaches around to choose from and if there was money to pay them," a source close to ZC said.
The dearth of quality in coaches in Zimbabwe, largely as a result of the financial crisis, means there are not many candidates to choose from when it comes to appointing a head coach. Neither Grant Flower nor Heath Streak are around any more after they accepted jobs with Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. Gary Brent, who was coaching the academy side, did not have his contract renewed and has sought work in another field.
ZC's precarious financial situation also means they will probably not be able to hire someone else to work in the coaching structures. That leaves only Waller's assistant, Stephen Mangongo, who was also Alan Butcher's No. 2, to take over the national team.
Mangongo is a seasoned coach, having come through the ranks at Takashinga cricket club, through which the likes of Tatenta Taibu, Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya were developed and has stood in as Zimbabwe's head coach on previous occasions including a series against Bangladesh.
However, Mangongo is known as a tough task master who has rubbed some players up the wrong way and even had an altercation with a young player last year. "I don't know how the players will respond to Stephen being appointed and being directly in charge," the source said.
The other idea the players may not warm to immediately is a change in leadership. Brendan Taylor has been in charge of Zimbabwe since June 2011, has presided over the Test comeback and wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan. He is a popular captain and has the support of his team although his tactics in managing bowlers have occasionally been questioned. Taylor is also burdened with the responsibility of keeping wicket and being the anchor batsman, which may be prompting the move to ease his load but Zimbabwe do not have too many options for who can relieve him.
Although the cricket committee has not named anyone as a possible leader, Hamilton Masakadza is the obvious, and perhaps even only, choice. He stood in for Taylor when the latter was on paternity leave for the first Test against Pakistan in September last year. He has also captained at ODI level previously albeit only for seven matches between 2008 and 2009 at a time when Zimbabwe were rotating captains with comical frequency. Masakadza is a guaranteed starter and one of Zimbabwe's most reliable batsmen and has the respect of his team-mates but whether he wants to be elevated to the captaincy has yet to be established.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent