Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) edged closer to appointing a new national team coach after interviewing prospective candidates, among them Heath Streak, who is tipped to take up the post, in Harare yesterday. BY Kevin Mapasure
Streak’s rivals for the top job include former Zimbabwe all-rounder, Andy Blignaut, former South Africa coach, Eric Simons as well current Uganda coach, Peter Kirsten.
The coach is expected to start work before Zimbabwe engage Sri Lanka in two Tests that precede the triangular series involving West Indies.
Former Zimbabwe and Bangladesh bowling coach, Streak entered the interview room at around 2pm yesterday after Kirsten had had his chance.
The successful candidate will replace Australian, Dav Whatmore, who was sacked in June after a run of poor results.
South African Makhaya Ntini, who is the team’s bowling coach, was expected to take over, but he failed his audition, when he presided over Zimbabwe’s huge defeats to India in the limited-overs series and the two Tests against New Zealand.
Ntini’s position as bowling coach is also under threat, with NewsDaySport having learnt that Streak will demand to put in place his own technical team.
With Streak in the set-up, Zimbabwe might not need another bowling coach.
Lance Klusener has been holding the batting coach post only as a consultant and ZC could also look elsewhere.
While there might be competition for the top coaching post, particularly from the two South Africans — Kirsten and Simons — it is likely that Streak will take his first head of technical team job at international level, having succeded as a bowling coach with both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
Streak’s advantage is his wealth of experience, having coached at an international level, albeit as a specialist coach.
He worked as Zimbabwe’s bowling coach between 2010 and 2013, after which ZC decided against renewing his contract following friction in the coaching set-up that also included the then head coach, Alan Butcher and batting coach, Grant Flower. He then landed the Bangladesh job in 2014, where he worked for two years before he left earlier this year.
He had a stint in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Simons, who once coached the Proteas, could be Streak’s biggest threat.
The 54-year-old is the current bowling coach for IPL side, Rising Pune Supergiants, having worked as a bowling consultant for India between 2010 and 2012.
He played 23 one-day-internationals (ODIs) for South Africa, but did not earn a Test cap.
Kirsten has been the Uganda coach since 2014 and had a well-decorated playing career, where he featured in 12 Tests and 40 ODIs for South Africa.
Blignaut, the director of cricket at Peterhouse College, does not have coaching experience at senior level.
Last year, he was in line to take over as the national Under-19 coach, but the job was taken by Steve Mangongo.
The 38-year-old former all-rounder represented Zimbabwe in 19 Test matches and 54 ODIs.