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Qualifiers postmortem: Zimbabwe’s players need to be cooked and toughened




SO near, yet so far.

We should not be a three-man army. These three lads – Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, and Sikandar Raza – have carried the country on their shoulders for so long, and it was soon coming that if they all fail, Zimbabwe would be left in serious trouble.

The others have to take responsibilities to carry the team home. It’s a team, not individuals!

It hurts. We are out of yet another World Cup, for the second edition in succession.

But, trust me, all is not lost. Wessly Madhevere and Joylord Gumbie have shown that they have abilities. However, they have to learn to convert and win games for their country. I’m sure it is going to happen, soon.

These boys – like Milton Shumba, Dion Myers, Bright Njanji, Nick Welch – are guys who need to step up. They need to be cooked and toughened.

Australians are excellent in hand-picking players for rigorous training and orientation programmes as potential elite performers for national duty.

Just like in the army where your commanders and special forces are taken for specialised grueling camps, our up-and-coming cricket talents also need such exposure.

Zimbabwe has a great coach in Dave Houghton. I believe he should identify six specialist batters for intensive training, so that we have depth going forward, and create competition for places in the batting line-up.

ZC must be commended for making sure that the national team had international engagements over the past two years. This should be extended to the Zimbabwe ‘A’ team, so that the next group of talent is fast-tracked and blossom early.

Hence stiffer natural competition for guys in the national team.

The Scottish, Irish and Dutch players benefit from solid exposure in county cricket in the UK. So as Zimbabwe, we need to get our ‘A’ side back into the tougher South African structure for game exposure and experience.

*Guest columnist Stephen Mangongo is a former Zimbabwe national team coach and cricket development stalwart. He is chairperson and co-founder of Powerplay Sports Academy.