Former South Africa fast bowler Makhaya Ntini's contract as Zimbabwe's bowling coach is unlikely to be renewed when it expires in January next year, and he may even be released before that date. Ntini is on a two-year deal that started in January last year.
ESPNcricinfo understands that complaints from several players about Ntini's approach have forced Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) administration to let Ntini go. With the World Cup qualifiers due to be played in March next year, ZC would prefer that process to take place earlier than his contract's expiration date, so that they can find a replacement ahead of the tournament.
But, ZC's managing director Faisal Hasnain said discussions about Ntini, or anyone else's contract, had not yet begun and that any suggestion that Ntini had been fired was untrue.
"ZC denies in the strongest possible terms any suggestions that Makhaya has been sacked. When his contract comes up for renewal, will we deal with it in the manner we deal with all our contracts," Hasnain said. "Makhaya is a valued member of our staff, he is highly respected and he has done some great work. He has his hands full preparing the team for the matches against Netherlands, Pakistan A and then the two Tests against West Indies."
Zimbabwe will be playing three 50-over matches against Netherlands in Harare next week and have named a strong squad for the series, although they will be without Brendan Taylor, who has been allowed a few days off after his return to the country. Taylor was released from his Nottinghamshire contract last week and will be available for Zimbabwe's series against West Indies.
Zimbabwe are pinning a lot of hopes on Taylor's comeback and the revamped structures to see them through to the 2019 World Cup but are planning to get there without Ntini. The South African has not obtained any coaching qualifications prior to or since getting the job, though he has gained significant experience.
After almost six months under Dav Whatmore, Ntini was appointed interim head coach when Whatmore was sacked at the end of May. Ntini took charge of Zimbabwe for three ODIs and three T20s against India and two Tests against New Zealand. Zimbabwe lost all but one of the T20s. Ntini was then relieved of the head coach job in October, when Heath Streak took over but he stayed on as a member of Streak's support staff.
The Zimbabwe job was Ntini's first foray into coaching after his international retirement in 2010. He is one of the ambassadors of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, the Port Elizabeth-based team in the Global T20 League, South Africa's franchise tournament which kicks off in November.