Bukhosi Mangena Sports Correspondent
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani has said the senior national team’s backroom staff reshuffle was part of their “immediate solution to a long standing problem”.
ZC made technical changes on Tuesday by appointing former South African bowling speedster Makhaya Ntini as assistant head coach and bowling coach, while former Sri Lanka swashbuckling batsman and captain Marvan Atapattu was roped in as consultant batting coach for the Chevrons’ tour of Bangladesh this month.
Ntini replaces Douglas Hondo, who has been moved to Zimbabwe A, while Atapattu steps into the role vacated by the sacked Andy Waller last year.
Atapattu, who quit as Sri Lanka coach in September 2015, could well be appointed on a long-term basis should he manage to improve Zimbabwe’s shaky batting line-up against Bangladesh.
However, the two high profile appointments were attacked by former ZC director and board member Cyprian Mandenge as unnecessary, saying investment in grassroots structures, club cricket, provincial structures and franchise cricket was the only way of improving the national team’s results.
Mandenge, who served on the ZC board for 11 years, said Zimbabwe had changed coaches more than other nations, but nothing had changed because there was no investment in player development.
“We need to put money in the right places and for the right reasons, but that’s not happening and unfortunately, that destroys our sport,” Mandenge told our Harare Bureau in reaction to Ntini and Atapattu’s appointments.
Mukuhlani defended his board’s decision, saying focusing on the development of cricket was not a viable option at the moment as the technical changes were made with the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 World Cup in mind. The sixth edition of the ICC T20 World Cup will be held in India in March.
Mukuhlani said the appoitments were aimed at immediately curbing the appalling state of the Chevrons, which was underlined by their embarrassing back-to-back One-Day International series’ losses to relative cricket minnows Afghanistan.
He rejected criticism that ZC was investing too much money and effort on a lost cause as a view being advanced by people lacking perspective.
“We brought in these two coaches because we realised that our performances were now unbecoming. We lost a series to an Associate Member and we can’t be happy about that. We’ve a World Cup coming and you can’t prepare for that by putting nets in Takashinga and Emakhandeni,” said Mukuhlani.
“We know that development plays a pivotal role, but I think that’s not the cause of this catastrophe. I believe this criticism is from those that failed in their positions,” he said.
Mukuhlani said those blaming ZC’s management style now were simply shying away from accepting failure, which they were a part of.
“When people are appointed, there’s no one who says I can’t take the job because you’re not doing this and that, but you hear them talking about how we are ignoring junior development when they start to lose. I think people say such things before they even research because it takes 15 years to build a good team from the grassroots,” he said.
Zimbabwean cricket has been in terminal decline for more than a decade and although fingers have continuously been pointed in all directions, nothing has been done on the ground to ensure the game rises from its present sorry state.