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'We've got the potential' - Whatmore

Dav Whatmore, the Zimbabwe coach, says his side will need time and experience to start converting ability into performance

Dav Whatmore knows a thing or two about coaching struggling sides, and coaxing success out of whatever resources are at hand. He masterminded Sri Lanka's World Cup win in 1996, and sparked a change in Bangladesh's trajectory when he took over the coaching role there in 2003.
He moved into his current position with Zimbabwe less than six weeks before the World Cup earlier this year, and was able to bring enjoyment and cohesion back into the team environment in remarkably quick time. Yet positive results haven't been forthcoming, and on Tuesday Zimbabwe slipped to a 3-0 series defeat to India despite putting themselves into positions of dominance in all three matches.
"That was a hugely disappointing effort in that first game. We honestly thought we should have won that. When you get so close, and you don't, I think psychologically it becomes a little bit greater when you play the next one. We've got the potential, as you can see, we just need to transform our ability into performance, and that comes from here," Whatmore said, pointing at his head.
Though Whatmore prompted "a total 180 in the players' mindsets" very quickly, according to former captain Brendan Taylor, he insists there is no quick fix for Zimbabwe's issues.
"It doesn't happen like that," Whatmore says, clicking his fingers to emphasise the point. "It never does. It takes a bit of time. If you look at the history of Zimbabwe cricket over the last four years, if you've done your research you'll know that we've only played a handful of games. And to improve you need to go through certain situations more often. So hopefully boys will learn as quickly as possible, because we are now playing competition which we haven't had in the past.
"It's okay to say 'be patient with us', it's a cliche but I'm very pleased to have played these three games and we look forward very much to the future matches coming in this calendar year. And we look to improve. So please bear with us, we are trying really hard to get it right and we will need a bit more time. As other sides do."
Zimbabwe have been slightly surprised by the way these pitches have played, as ordinarily Harare Sports Club tracks ease out during the course of the day, particularly in winter. In this series, there has always been something on offer for the bowlers. They "briefly" considered batting first after Elton Chigumbura won his third toss in a row, Whatmore explained, "but this wicket generally gets a lot better than this. It's sort of misbehaving a little more than what most of us thought. Generally speaking this wicket flattens out a little bit more, but it's had some life in it right throughout."
India haven't had it all their way in this series, slipping to 87 for 5 in the first match, losing 6 for 77 in the last 10 overs on Sunday, and wobbling at 82 for 4 today, but Zimbabwe were never able to land the killer blow and, as Whatmore admitted, "we've let them off the hook a couple of times".
The problem, for Chigumbura, is a lack of ruthlessness.
"It's just about being ruthless," he said. "You tend to relax when you are on top, or sometimes some guys realise we're on top. And also because of not playing many games regularly. I think the more we play the more we could quickly learn from these mistakes.
"We need to dig deep when we get into these situations. I think that's where we're lacking. We always get into a good position, in almost every series that we play we'll get one or two chances that we can take with both hands and win the game, but we don't."
Zimbabwe have a quick turnaround in which to try to set things right before the Twenty20 series starts on Friday, but they can also look forward to an unusually full schedule in the months to come. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, particularly on the psychological aspect of their game, Zimbabwe could yet be another of Whatmore's success stories.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town