Zimbabwe Cricket will attempt to lift the team out of its current performance crisis by revamping the technical team, as reports suggesting Makhaya Ntini will be appointed as bowling coach gain credibility.By Kevin Mapasure
The senior national team was condemned to their second One Day International (ODI) series defeat to Afghanistan in just over two months.
The two defeats added to another series loss to Bangladesh last year have contributed in pulling the team out of the top 10 in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings, landing at number 12, behind Afghanistan and Ireland, ranked 10 and 11 respectively.
There has been speculation linking Ntini to the bowling coach’s role to replace Douglas Hondo who has been redeployed to the Zim A side and that hearsay has gained believability, with ZC failing to deny there were such developments this week.
ZC would not address specific questions relating to the appointment of Ntini but confirmed there were some changes lined up for the coaching department.
“Zimbabwe Cricket is restructuring its technical department and this is an ongoing process. The relevant appointments will be announced in due course,” ZC media manager Lovemore Banda said in a statement.
A source in touch with Ntini said the former Proteas fast bowler was looking forward to the challenge of working with the Zimbabwe national team.
He added that Ntini will soon be coming to Zimbabwe to finalise his deal, but is likely to start work only after the team returns from Bangladesh, where they will play a four-match T-20 series against the hosts.
“He (Ntini) will soon be coming to Zimbabwe, and he has said he is looking forward to try and help improve the fortunes of the team,” the source said.
ZC is also in the hunt for batting coach to replace Andy Waller who was sacked last year after they team lost to Afghanistan.
Ntini played 101 Tests and 173 Odis for South Africa, taking 390 wickets in the longer version and 266 in the limited overs before he retired in 2011.
The 3-2 defeat in Bulawayo and the one in Sharjah have triggered many questions and have thrown both captain Elton Chigumbura and coach Dav Whatmore in the firing line.
With the team tumbling in the ICC rankings at a time they had targeted an upward trajectory, genuine fears about the team failing to qualify for the 2019 ICC World Cup have emerged.
Such a development would have its consequences for ZC who rely from the proceeds that accrue from participating at the global showcase for survival.
Zimbabwe will be targeting qualification for the ICC World T-20 in March after which they have a number of tours where they will play mostly ODIs in a bid to try and improve their rankings.
ZC has said they have tours lined up against India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh this year.
They are also likely to have some matches against the Associate sides as they push for some points.
Hosts England and the seven best-ranked sides in the ODIs by September of next year get an automatic qualification to the World Cup.
The other four sides that have ODI status join Associate sides in a World Cup qualifier that will be staged in Bangladesh in 2018.