Mangongo threatens to drop Zimbabwe seniors
Stephen Mangongo, the Zimbabwe head coach, has said that he is ready to drop senior players if their experience does not translate into improved results for the team. Zimbabwe lost successive ODIs at home to Associate side Afghanistan in July and their A team went down to Afghanistan A in a four-day match.
Vusi Sibanda, one of Zimbabwe's most experienced players, was dropped after the first ODI against Afghanistan, and Mangongo said "bold" decisions needed to be made following years of disappointment.
"We have underperformed for a long time and the time has come for us to be bold and make the right decisions," Mangongo told the Zimbabwe Independent. "We will not hesitate to chop dead wood and we will not hesitate to unleash raw genuine talent if experience fails us.
"Each player will be held accountable for his roles, and the day you do not execute your role well I will look elsewhere. I would rather have young hungry talent learning than to have the experienced players continuously underperforming. The current group of players has played against all cricket nations in the world, but some of their performances do not show."
Mangongo, who is known to be a tough taskmaster, said he had resolved to make Zimbabwe a more consistent unit. "It's a challenge for us to lift the team again, but it is one I am looking forward to and excited about. I will demand a lot but I will also be pragmatic. We should thrash Associate members and we should surprise teams ranked above us. We have been too inconsistent and I have taken it upon myself to turn it all around. First the administration has to play its part and then the main actors, the players, have all the work to do."
Zimbabwe will host South Africa for a Test and three ODIs later this month after which Australia will join the sides for a one-day tri-series. Zimbabwe will then tour Bangladesh for three Tests and five ODIs. Mangongo said he wanted to create a team that competed even against big sides such as Australia and South Africa.
"We are on the same page with the selectors and with the Zimbabwe A coach, so we want to widen the pool of talent to choose from," he said. "But the guys that have been playing regularly will be given a fair chance. What we want is to produce a winning team not a team that continues to disappoint its fans.
"Even when we play giants like South Africa and Australia, it should not be a foregone conclusion; they should know that when they come here they will play some tough cricket. This is a good opportunity for us to play good cricket consistently and the players are all excited about it. When we win against Bangladesh no one cares but when we beat Pakistan the world took notice. So when we play Australia and South Africa it's a rare opportunity for us to show the world that we can play cricket and prove our doubters wrong."