Dingilizwe Ntuli Sports Editor
ALTHOUGH opening batsman Vusi Sibanda’s fluently struck half-century helped Zimbabwe beat Hong Kong by 14 runs in the opening group encounter of the World T20 in Nagpur, India, on Tuesday, the Chevrons reaped the benefit of some tight death bowling to boost our prospects of making the World Twenty20 main draw.
Sibanda’s maiden fifty and former skipper Elton Chigumbura’s late assault powered Zimbabwe to 158-8 before they survived a late scare to restrict Hong Kong to 144-6.
It was, however, the passion of assistant coach Makhaya Ntini that caught the eye. The energy the former pace bowler used to bring on the pitch for the Proteas is the same energy that he is trying to bring into the Chevrons’ side.
If that energy can rub onto the players, as it seems to be, then our team looks set to rise from the ashes and become competitive once again.
Ntini was passionately involved in every delivery by our bowling attack and watching him gesticulate as if he was the bowler either on the receiving end or punishing the batsmen was refreshing and a joy to watch.
He was the 12th man and in there with the players, sharing their excitement, pain of disappointment and joy of taking a wicket.
No wonder Ntini is South Africa’s third-highest Test wicket-taker of all time with 390 wickets from 101 Test matches.
His enthusiasm for cricket is unquestionable and his presence on its own is a jovial affair.
Since his arrival as assistant coach and specialist bowling coach, Ntini’s emphasis seems to be on the players accomplishing more together than they can individually.
He has brought an upbeat and positive attitude to our national team and is truly someone who loves his job.
Hopefully his hunger for success will transform potential into performance for Zimbabwean cricket. The players must love their job in the same manner that Ntini enjoys his.
This is what seems to have been lacking in our cricket. We have had good coaches in the past, but none were as passionate as Ntini. They tended to cut forlorn figures on the bench when the boys were struggling and their emotionless demeanour was translated on the field by the players’ performances.
We hope to see more enthusiasm and the players enjoying themselves when our boys take on Scotland in their second match today.
Like Ntini, our bowling attack must just focus on hitting the right area and not try to be witty by bowling a lot of wides down leg. They instead must force Scotland’s batsmen to make mistakes.