Geoff Marsh: We're on the up

Geoff Marsh, the Zimbabwe cricket coach, believes that the team is getting its act together despite the embarrassing defeats in Sri Lanka

Larry Moyo
Geoff Marsh, the Zimbabwe cricket coach, believes that the team is getting its act together despite the embarrassing defeats in Sri Lanka. He talks to CricInfo about his four months in charge and the tours ahead:
"I think the performances in Bangladesh were very good. That was a good promise for the team. We were obviously disappointing in Sri Lanka. The boys came away from their disappointing one-day performance but it was a tough series to come up against Murali - everyone knows what a great bowler he is. It was hard work.
It was a disappointing performance, and if you look at the whole team the guys will be disappointed with some of their performances, no doubt about that. I think everyone would be honest and say they would have liked to score more runs but it was tough. The wickets were turning square and Murali took 30 wickets in the series. But from the coach's point of view the guys never stopped working and it was just one of those things.
One pleasing thing for myself was that the boys worked very hard right to the end, fighting right to the last ball in a Test match. But we were up against a good team and we couldn't quite get it right. Hopefully we can take the positives out of that tour and I hope all the players learnt from the experience so we can get to India in a good frame of mind and improve on our performance.
There have been problems with the opening partnerships. We had Trevor Gripper and Stuart Carlisle making a record stand against Sri Lanka in the last Test and hopefully that partnership will blossom in India.
It's always important to get a good start. That's the key. In Sri Lanka Andy Flower was always coming in with the score at 20 or 30 for three. He had pressure of not only being number one in the world but also of getting the team back and getting runs on the board.
In the final Test it was very disappointing that after putting more than 150 for the first wicket and being 230 for five overnight we were all out for 236 and then dismissed for less than 80 in the second innings. But if you actually saw Murali bowling that day, that's what he is capable of doing. For three days in that match the guys were doing very well and hanging in there, but then Murali bowled that spell and it set the team back. We went into that day really keen to have a good fourth day and get ourselves into a winning position. Unfortunately Murali bowled too well that day and we were unable to build on the overnight score.
After the tours of Sharjah, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, I thought Heath Streak's performance was very good. Travis Friend showed improvement, as did Trevor Gripper. The most important thing now is to get consistency from all the players. If we manage that, we will be very competitive.
After the three months that we have been away I am happy with the couple of changes that have been made to the team for India. Obviously bringing Alistair Campbell back in the team was good. We all know that he is a very experienced player whp has been in terrific form in the A team and hopefully he can bring that form into our team.
At the end of the day we need all our batsmen to raise the bar and improve on their performance because if you don't get enough runs on the board then obviously you don't give your bowlers a chance. That's what our goal will be when we get to India.
There has been the need for a specialist spinner and Raymond Price has come into the team, which is good. Grant Flower bowled very well for us in Sri Lanka. We have Trevor Gripper who can roll his arm over but at the end of the day it will be very helpful if all the bowlers do their job in India.
You know India is a good place for swing and seam bowling so I think we have our bowling for the tour pretty balanced. I also hope that the guys have learnt a lot playing against Murali. He is the benchmark, isn't he? He is the best spinner you can play against and I'm sure when we get to India our batsmen will be a lot more positive and take what they learnt in Sri Lanka into that series.
We will not be worried about having to play just one warm-up match in India because we have just come from Sri Lanka where they have similar conditions. Players are now used to having just a couple of net sessions, one warm-up match and go straight into the one-day and Test matches.
Every team in the world struggles to play well away from home and when I was coach of Australia it was our goal to improve on our away performance. That's something that the guys here have spoken about and something that we will address before the series starts in India.
Those players who have been dropped from the first team should go back and play cricket. It's important that those players who get left out of the first team can go back on to the domestic scene and play for Zimbabwe A, and prove to the selectors that they want to return. That's why it's important to have more threeor four-day cricket because not everyone can make the A team. Players like Gary Brent, Mluleki Nkala and Henry Olonga need threeor four-day cricket so that they can go out there and perform, get themselves back in good nick and put themselves back in contention for first-team places.
Personally I would want to see a lot more threeand four-day cricket played over a long period of time. I think that it's very important for the development of young players. At the moment I think there are only five three-day matches on the domestic scene every season, but hopefully we can get ten games a season. This gives players an opportunity to go out there and make big scores and bowlers can bowl long spells."