Here is to a better season

HARARE - The 2012/2013 domestic season starts on the sixth of next month and cricket administrators, players and fans will be hoping for a better season.

Not only from an on field and result point of view but financial events off the field have left a once lucrative and vibrant company in tatters.

There was a certain amount of concern and speculation as to weather the domestic season would be able to continue, but thankfully the new season is upon us and we, the cricket enthusiasts can focus fully on events on the field which is a lot more interesting anyway.

The first observation of interest is the slight reshuffle in the coaching department with former Matabaleland Tuskers coach Dave Houghton moving to Masvingo to take over as main coach and hopefully help the struggling Southern Rocks to bigger and better things in the new season.

There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Houghton is the country’s best coach and that he has a way of bringing the best out in players. Provided they are keen to work hard in the nets and listen to what he has to say.

We are often quick to rip coaches to shreds in this country but the truth of the matter is that on many occasions, players are just as much to blame in the sense that they expect coaches to spoon feed them and hold their hand at all times.

So if there is one man who has the ability of turning the Rock’s fortunes around, that man is David Houghton.

His record speaks for itself. He helped English county side Worcestershire progress from a talented side to a very good side in a space of a season-and-a half.

When he took over as Matabaleland Tuskers coach in 2010/2011, the Tuskers not only improved dramatically but won the Castle Logan cup in both 2010/2011, as well as 2011/2012.

When he took over as national coach after a disappointing 1996 world cup, the major cricketing nations started to respect the national team and take them seriously.

Even when playing them in test matches which was a huge feather in Houghton and the entire national teams cap considering the fact that Zimbabwe were always regarded as a group of talented one day players.

Another man who has pretty big boots to fill is the current national team batting coach Grant Flower who will be taking over as coach of the Mid West Rhinos.

The Midlands team have been under the watchful eye of former Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie who’s combination of hard work as well as his ability to mix with the players off the field, seemed to form a very tight team bond between the entire rhinos squad.

Gillespie felt that in order for a team to perform on the field and play together as a genuine team, there needed to be a good relationship amongst the players off the field as well.

So he encouraged team dinners on a regular bases where he had guest speakers who got to spend time with the players and share ideas.

Gillespie was also responsible for the rapid rise of Richard Muzhange who in a short space of time changed from being an average franchise bowler, to a bowler that national team captain Brendan Taylor described as his “Go to man” when Zimbabwe beat South Africa in the T-20 triangular series earlier this year.

People who have followed Grant Flower over the years as a player will know that work ethic, fitness and a healthy respect for the game and it’s senior players were attributes that made him the fantastic and dependable player he was for so many years.

Flower has a massive amount of experience. Having played over 50 test matches, more than 200 one day internationals as well as spending eight seasons with English county side Essex.

Adding all the statistics together, you have one seriously experienced campaigner with a lot of credentials.
Flower will also have the benefit of established players such as Vusi Sibanda who actually played with and against Flower. As well as Brendan Taylor and Edward Rainsford who has had his fair share of traveling.

The Matabeleland Tuskers may very well have lost the services of Dave Houghton but the man taking over from him is a man who many Zimbabwean youngsters looked up to when growing up.

Former Zimbabwean captain and now national team bowling coach Heath Streak has taken on the added responsibility of coaching the franchise and province he grew up in and represented for many years.

Streak loves a challenge and the prospect of having to fill the boots of the successful Dave Houghton will be right up his street.

In truth, the adjustment from being the Tuskers assistant bowling coach to head coach would not worry the big man too much.

After all Streak played alongside and was coached by Houghton and his international and county experience, like the previously featured coaches will not only benefit the players, but assist the younger and upcoming coaches of the entire province.

Streak also commands the respect of all the players and you only have to look at how Njabulo Ncube has improved since he moved back to his city of berth and his time with Streak has most definitely served him well.

Looking at all five of the franchise coaches it is pleasing to note that each and every one of them are Home grown talent. But more importantly, they have also played and succeeded at all levels.

David Houghton, Heath Streak, Grant Flower, Gary Brent and love or hate him, Kevin Curran have all at some stage in their careers contributed with bat and ball which is exactly what all countries have a first class system want.

It would also be good for the selectors to communicate with the five franchise coaches before picking a side and find out exactly which player has been consistently performing for his franchise as well as enquiring about work ethic and off field behaviour which is just as important as making runs or taking wickets.

It will also be interesting to see If any changes will be made to the pitches which have become flat and lifeless and which certainly don’t encourage fast bowling.

It would be good to see pitches with a bit of pace and bounce.

Not only to encourage fast bowling but pitches with bounce also encourage positive stroke play and will still provide assistance for the spinners.

And so with an additional T-20 competition that will be played between matches as well as the popular Stanbic 20 series and pro 50 competition, domestic cricket lovers will once again be in for a feast of what will hopefully be good and competitive cricket amongst the franchises. - Dean du Plessis

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.