Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore wants Zimbabwe to be given the opportunity to play more international cricket, ODIs and Tests, to help them push on as a team to contend with.
Whatmore, who took on the job of Zimbabwe coach six weeks before the World Cup, said Zimbabwe’s early exit from the World Cup had much to do with the quantity of cricket they had played in the run up to the tournament.
Between January 2014 and the World Cup, Zimbabwe played only 16 ODIs, winning three and losing 13, the least of all the full member nations under all categories. Between the last World Cup and this one, Zimbabwe also find themselves at the bottom of the heap in Test cricket played.
It was a paucity of ODIs, Whatmore said, that allowed Zimbabwe to slip up several times in the World Cup.
“Please, we’d like to play more cricket,” Whatmore said as Zimbabwe trained for their March 14 match in Eden Park against India. “If they’d had enough matches, then I’m sure during certain defining moments, they would be equal to it.”
To start with, those defining moments came against their two tough opponents in the group. Starting with a surging run towards South Africa’s 339 in the opening match of the World Cup, when Zimbabwe got to 212 for 3 before their middle order caved in.
Against Pakistan, they were chasing a small target, 236, in Brisbane and lost by 20 runs, once again losing wickets in clumps, their centre unable to hold. The cruelest cut came with defeat to Ireland that Zimbabwe lost by five runs in pursuit of 332 to win. Whatmore said had his team been able to gain more nous in crisis management from playing more games, “They would not be going home on Sunday we would be playing in the second round.”
Whatmore’s contract with Zimbabwe was to last until the end of the World Cup, but manager Chris Chiketa told ESPNcricinfo that Zimbabwe Cricket had been in discussion and were “hopeful” that there would arrive at an agreement with Whatmore with regard to a longer term.
The decision by Test captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor sign up with Nottinghamshire as a Kolpak player is expected to be the first of many such signings by a core group of players from the Zimbabwe team but Whatmore was optimistic.
“It is true we will be missing Brendan Taylor who is be going to Nottingham and they are very, very lucky to have him, but despite that, we feel that we have got a number of players who make this team really strong, because of what they offer in terms of their all-round ability.” He said in the past six weeks leading up to the world cup, he had been with the team, “on a day-to-day basis…” and finds their skills and promise “exciting”.
When asked if the supply line of Zimbabwe cricket would be able to make up for the gap created by the absence of a player of Taylor’s ability, Whatmore’s said he had faith that Zimbabwe’s domestic structure, including franchise cricket, was of a “good standard”, enough to keep the supply chain moving.
He said the recent appointment of Alastair Campbell as general manager of Cricket Affairs had been welcomed and among other things, was a sign that Zimbabwe cricket was moving forward. Whether they will move forward with Dav Whatmore, who has made positive noises, is another question.