Following his side's 5-0 defeat in the ODI series in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo has responded to comments made by former captain Alistair Campbell, who had said the lack of former international cricketers in the current Zimbabwe set-up was hurting the team's progress. Mangongo said the side had lost a lot of games in the past despite the presence of former cricketers in the staff and stressed that financial problems were still a hindrance for Zimbabwe.
In an interview to a Bangladeshi newspaper, Campbell had said that although the current coaches had the requisite qualifications, their lack of wider exposure meant the players didn't get expert advice on a regular basis. He regretted the exits of Grant Flower and Heath Streak, who had worked as batting and bowling coaches with the side.
"Well, Alistair Campbell is a former captain and he is entitled to his own opinion," Mangongo said. "Zimbabwe is a democratic country so he had his opinion. However we must also remind that in the past we had former cricketers in the staff and we haven't won that many games, so I hope he hasn't forgotten that when he made that statement. We had Grant Flower as part of the coaching staff, we had Heath Streak as part of the staff, and we were losing to teams like Hong Kong and all those guys.
"So I don't understand where it is coming from and also this year, if you look to some world-class teams like Australia - [John] Buchanan he never played lot of cricket but he is one of the world's best coaches who took Australia places. He is entitled to his own opinion and I am sure the Zimbabwe Cricket Union will always endeavour as much personnel to help the boys. But we also need to be realistic because we've got financial problems and Zimbabwe cricket works within the finances. That is a fact."
Mangongo admitted he was disappointed with the ODI series defeat and regretted the manner in which his side conceded dominant positions, particularly in the fourth ODI which they lost by 21 runs. He, however, held Bangladesh in high regard, particularly their performances at home.
"I think it was disappointing to lose the series 5-0, because we had opportunities to win a couple of games," he said. "At least we should have won the last game which we lost by 21 runs, that's disappointing because we had a chance for a victory but we couldn't. We also must give credit to Bangladesh.
"They [Bangladesh] were resolute, they had the killer instinct, when they had us down they finished us. They executed their skills better and yes, the better team won the series and it is not all gloom and doom."
Mangongo said he was happy with the pace bowlers, who had given Zimbabwe early breakthroughs in some of the matches, and generally bowled tight overs with the two new balls. Mangongo also praised Solomon Mire, who struck two fifties in his maiden ODI series.
"Our bowling department, I am very proud of them. They bowled very well, bowled very tight in all the five games," he said. "There is hope with a few individuals, young Solomon Mire's start of international career was truly outstanding. So we can build from there."
Zimbabwe also played their last scheduled ODI this year, which means they have more than two months to prepare for the World Cup. Mangongo said the players would rest for the first ten days after returning home and expressed hope that Zimbabwe Cricket could find the team some matches in early January.
"I know for a fact that Zimbabwe Cricket is working very hard to try to get us some international game time in January before the World Cup," he said. "So I hope that materialises because it is important that we continue to play and continue to learn and execute our skills under pressure."