'We'll bend over backwards'

HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Wilson Manase says the organisation will “bend over backwards” trying to ensure new coach Dav Whatmore’s success.

Manase’s remarks – during yesterday press conference to officially unveil the 60-year-old Australian as new Zimbabwe coach – came after Whatmore spoke of the need for the “the right environment” to prevail.

Whatmore admitted he was worried about the team’s thin selection base caused by the premature retirement from international cricket by several players over non-payment of dues, among other issues. 

He was appointed by ZC last week ahead of the 2015 World Cup after Stephen Mangongo was fired on December 18 following a disastrous tour of Bangladesh, where the team lost all three Tests and five ODIs.

He led his country of birth Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996 and also later achieved some success as coach of Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Manase added that there will “be no sacred cows” in his board’s endeavour to turn around the fortunes of a struggling team and an ailing sport.

“We will do everything; he will guide us on what he wants. What he wants will be definitely be bending over backwards to give him,” Manase told reporters.

Whatmore, who played seven Tests and a single ODI for Australia, will take Zimbabwe to the 2015 World Cup before engaging in further negotiations with ZC for a longer-term deal.

He said yesterday: “At the end of the day what every team wants is performance. I can feel it in the depths of the fibres here with the Zimbabwe Cricket, particularly the chairman, who has a genuine desire to get the performance up. So this next tournament is a very important one.

“It’s very important that your team performs. Your recent tour to Bangladesh, I agree with a lot of people that the score line is not what it should have been. I know that the boys you have here are capable of doing more.

“On the last performance (in Bangladesh), it was a battle for the boys to do any good at all. But I know these guys, I know the team. I have seen them play in other conditions, just recently against Pakistan, here, where you beat Pakistan in a Test match and in the ODI, the first game went to Zimbabwe. The T20, fair enough, they lost but they were competitive.

“So the potential is there. We need to get the right boys in the right place. It will be a challenge but if we get it right we have a chance to be as competitive as possible.”

Whatmore said his immediate goal was to reach the Super Eight stage at the World Cup, which begins in Australia and New Zealand mid-February.

“You are asking for a target. It is very difficult to give you a definitive one, but our first target, to use your words, would be to make that Super Eight, which would means we need to win three games,” he said.

Whatmore added that “collective effort” was also a critical factor for the team’s turnaround.

“Essentially what we all require is a genuine effort, a duty of care to your employer. To ensure everything you do is to the best of your ability and with the right environment that we will work hard to create, you have the best chance to get the performance. It’s a collective effort.”

Whatmore will be assisted by bowling coach Douglas Hondo and a batting coach who will be appointed soon.

The selection panel will include Whatmore, Hondo, convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni, the team captain and deputy chief selector Babu Meman.

“In my experience, creating and cultivating a good relationship with selectors is very important,” Whatmore said.

“Givemore is the chief selector. In his heart he wants to do the best job. We all want to do the best job. But sometimes visions will vary. That’s healthy too.

“From my point of view I have a big interest in getting the right players on the field as much as the other selectors.  So I will be working as closely as possible to ensure that at the end of the day we are happy.”

On players who have walked away, Whatmore said:

“I am a person on the outside looking in; it’s been a worry situation. The latest one being (former pace spearhead Kyle) Jarvis (who quit aged 25 to sign for English County side Lancashire). It’s always good to have your best representing your country.

“I feel confident in saying all these boys would dearly love to play for Zimbabwe but the conditions and situations that exist may not be favourable to them. But going forward we would like to create the right environment.”

Whatmore’s predecessor, Mangongo, will however not coach the Under-19 side as earlier reported following his sacking. Instead, Mangongo will, according to ZC, “not be the coach of the Under-19s, but will assist with talent identification up to that age group.”

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