ZC backs Makhaya Ntini

HARARE - Zimbabwe senior men cricket team bowling coach Makhaya Ntini remains a huge part of the dressing room despite speculation that the former Proteas speedster was on his way out, a ZC official has said.

The former South African Test cricketer penned a two-year contract as specialist bowling coach in February 2016 assisting then head coach, Sri Lanka born former Australian cricketer Dav Whatmore.

He briefly assumed the reigns as interim head coach following the sacking of Whatmore in May last year over poor results.

The former Australian batsman had joined ZC as head coach in December 2014, after Stephen Mangongo now the U19 coach was sacked by the board.

ZC managing director Faisal Hasnain extinguished the flames of any mooted plans by his association to relieve Ntini of his duties adding that the ex-pacer will not be going anyway at least for now.

“We will look at our entire coaching and technical structure after the U19 World Cup and after the Cricket world Cup Qualifiers,” Hasnain told the Daily News.

“As of now I think things are progressing as they should, yes there’s been some speculation about our bowling coach but I can assure you that ...Ntini is very much part of our plans,” Hasnain said.

The Zimbabwe U19 cricket team is currently in New Zealand acclimatising before the World Cup roars to life on January 13 while ZC will also be hosting the ICC 2018 World Cup Qualifiers in March hoping for nothing short of qualification.

“...Any talk about any restructuring of our coaching staff at this stage is premature. But if we don’t do well in the U19 World Cup, if we don’t do well in the Cricket Qualifiers — let’s say we don’t qualify surely something would have to happen, what has gone wrong? And certainly it will be very unusual if changes are not made,” Faisal added.

“At the end of the day results do matter and if things don’t work out according to plan then it means people will have to have a good hard look at our entire cricketing setup. It will be a disaster if we don’t qualify for the Cricket World Cup.”

Ntini rose from being a product of the then United Cricket Board’s development programme to becoming South Africa’s first black African international cricketer playing 101 Test matches, 173 One Day Internationals and 10 Twenty20 international matches for the Proteas prior to him retiring from international cricket in 2010.

Some of his major highlights as a player included being the first South African to take 10 wickets in a Test match at the Lord’s cricket ground in England in 2003, claiming 13 wickets for 132 runs in Test match against West Indies in 2008 which were the best figures ever by a South African in the longer version of the game.