The appointment of South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini and Sri Lanka’s Marvan Atapattu into the Zimbabwe national cricket team coaching set up has this week been the hush talk of the Zimbabwean sports family.
The general feeling is that this was an act of desperation on the part of Zimbabwe Cricket in the wake of Zimbabwe’s never- ending defeats on the international front and in particular the latest ODI and T20 humiliation at the hands of Afghanistan.
It is a fact that Zimbabwean cricket needs a complete overhaul in as far as the national team is concerned, but not in the manner in which the cricket authorities are handling the much-needed change.
The question is: How did Zimbabwe Cricket come up with the name Makhaya Ntini for Zimbabwe’s bowling coaching position? Surely, the South African was a great bowler during his days but his coaching history is threadbare.
Even the South Africans themselves have not bothered to entrust Ntini with a coaching assignment — even in the lower ranks — despite his distinguished career with the Proteas.
In the case of Atapattu, he has been employed only for the four T20 match Series tour of Bangladesh. The question is: What change will he bring over this short period and for that matter, during the course of a series.
How are the Zimbabwean cricket authorities going to judge whether the former Sri Lanka coach is the right man for the job or whether the Zimbabwean team would have improved over this very short period?
We also need to take a look at Atapattu himself. In accepting the job, was he looking at a long term association with the Chevrons or the money that has been placed on his table in this Bangladesh expedition?
What is ironic is the fact that those at Zimbabwe Cricket are prepared to pay tens of thousands of dollars to former cricket greats from foreign lands yet Zimbabwe has its own share of former greats who can do the job equally good, if not better.
Zimbabwe had Andy Flower, yet they allowed him to go, only for him to land the job of England coach. Bangladesh have improved greatly, all because of former Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak. Streak was in Zimbabwe for a long period but nothing serious was done to persuade him to return to the national team after a previous fall-out.
In fact, Zimbabwean cricket has a history of disowning their own in favour of those from other lands. Take for example, Stephen Mangongo.
The man was with the national team for months, only to be relieved of his duties just a few days before departure for the 2015 World Cup in favour of Australian Dav Whatmore.
Mangongo has now been entrusted with the Under-19 team and is on his way to Bangladesh for the 2016 World Cup. It would not be surprising that after building a strong team for the future, a foreign coach will be brought in to take over that same team. That is unfair.
In these times of crisis, do we need foreign coaches whom we pay tens of thousands of dollars but who then leave us when they get better offers elsewhere? We need locals who can do the job with the pride of being Zimbabwean, and at a small pay package for that matter.
If Zimbabwe can hire a foreign coach who is 61 years old — in the form of Whatmore — why can’t Zimbabwe Cricket then go in search of former Zimbabwe greats like Murray Godwin, Eddo Brandes, Guy Whittal, Paul Strang, Stuart Carlisle, Dion Ebrahim, Ali Shah, or John Rennie — and many others — to take charge of the Chevrons?
Instead of the likes of Ntini, there is also the generation that Tatenda Taibu played alongside, who can easily fit into the national team set up and do the job with efficiency. Football has proved with limited financial resources, that local coaches can do it. After years of experimenting and failing with coaches from Germany, Brazil, Scotland, Switzerland, Poland, Ghana, it was locals — Sunday Chidzambwa in 2004 and later Charles Mhlauri in 2006 — who managed to take Zimbabwe to the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The solution to the Zimbabwe Cricket crisis is here in Zimbabwe, not in foreign lands. Otherwise we would have been having foreign administrators running the Zimbabwean game.
That is my view.
Our best wishes for the Warriors
The Warriors are now in the small town of Rubavu in Rwanda for their fourth romance in the Africa Nations Championships (Chan). Even in that far off place, they need our support back at home.
After their fourth place finish at the last edition in South Africa, there is every reason to believe that the Warriors will go further than that and bring the trophy back home.
Although the Warriors did not have any competitive match since the day they qualified, heartening is the fact that they have had the same coach for some time, Kalisto Pasuwa — a coach who knows their style of play well.
Their group, which includes Mali, Uganda, and Zambia, does not look all that intimidating. However, the Warriors must win their opening game against Chipolopolo on Tuesday to smoothen their path and make it to the knockout stages.
As the Warriors prepare to rock and roll, they should trot onto the pitch with the knowledge that if others could win this tournament before, they too can do it.
We at Standardsport wish them all the best in their journey.
For views, comments, and suggestions, email mkariati@gmail. com or WhatsApp on 077 3 266 779.