Waller challenges national team

HARARE - New Zimbabwe cricket coach Andy ‘Bhundu’ Waller says the team must play sufficiently well against India to regain the confidence of sponsors who have deserted the game.

The former Zimbabwe international, a veteran of three World Cups for Zimbabwe, will take charge of the team for the first time during next month’s home series against the Asians after he was appointed last month to succeed Englishman Alan Butcher.

“I can quite understand why the sponsors aren’t around at the moment; we haven’t performed to the ability we are capable of,” Waller told the Daily News yesterday. 

“We have to be competitive, we got to get crowds back and sponsors are going to chip in when stands are full.

“I think people have seen now the work we are putting in, players have that desire and want to play international cricket. 

“I’m trying to instil pride back into the side. I’m sure they have always been like that, but not to the extent I would want and I think when the sponsors see us playing with pride, passion and desire, they will want to back us.

“It’s not gonna happen overnight, it’s something that will take a while but certainly my goal is to improve on those aspects.”

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has been hit by a severe liquidity crunch in recent years and things came to a standstill two months ago when some un-contracted players boycotted training before the Bangladesh tour.

Interim coach Steve Mangongo was left with only a squad of 10 players and could not adequately prepare for the series.

In the end, ZC ran around and was able to tie down 11 more players on winter contracts allowing Mangongo to resume his preparations.

India’s tour to Zimbabwe was only confirmed on Monday after it had been hanging in the balance due to the Asians pressing schedule.

The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) however confirmed that their team will tour Zimbabwe, leaving Waller a relieved man.

“It’s good to hear that it’s definitely on, but I was aware it was on, so nothing has changed for me,” he said.

“I wasn’t affected at all, the board has always informed me that it was definitely gonna be on so right from the beginning of our training we were training with that in mind.

“If anything, we were told that probably it was gonna be delayed by a week.”

Waller, who is the father of current national team batsman Malcolm Waller, is however under no illusion about the task ahead.

“Of course the odds are against us. India are one of the best sides in the world,” he said.

“We are training to beat them, but I’m not saying we are gonna beat them. We will do all the best we can and try to win.

“Even if we don’t win, we will be satisfied in the knowledge that we gave our 100 percent.  We will have no regrets.”

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