Heath Streak the right man for top ZC job

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

WE con­grat­u­late Heath Streak for his lat­est ap­point­ment as head coach of the Zim­babwe se­nior na­tional cricket team. If there is any per­son that de­served a chance to coach the Chevrons, it is Streak. He gave it his all when he first broke into the se­nior na­tional side in the 1993/94 Test se­ries against Pak­istan just af­ter com­plet­ing his sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

It was no sur­prise that he en­joyed a good de­but and went on to be­come the team’s most re­li­able bowler for the next decade. He also car­ried the bur­den as cap­tain and lead at­tack af­ter the turn of the cen­tury.

Those that had watched him rep­re­sent­ing his school, Falcon Col­lege, cor­rectly touted him as a fu­ture star. He didn’t only be­come a lo­cal star, but was also among the best in­ter­na­tion­ally dur­ing his play­ing days.

When he de­cided to call time on his play­ing ca­reer, Streak went into coach­ing. How­ever, his coach­ing ca­reer had al­ways been about play­ing a sup­port­ing role. He was once the Chevrons’ bowl­ing coach, but it was his stint as bowl­ing coach of Bangladesh that brought him great suc­cess.

Bangladesh scored some great vic­to­ries over the likes of South Africa in the one-day game and also white­washed Zim­babwe in the Test and one­day se­ries dur­ing Streak’s time with the Asian side.

While Streak was en­joy­ing some suc­cess with Bangladesh, Zim­babwe’s game con­tin­ued to nose­dive and reached a new low when they were em­bar­rassed by an Afghanistan white­wash last year.

is was fol­lowed by an­other in­dif­fer­ent per­for­mance at the ICC World Twenty20 in In­dia ear­lier this year where Zim­babwe failed to qual­ify for the main draw, and Afghanistan were again the stum­bling block.

In­dia and New Zealand toured the coun­try af­ter the World T20 dis­as­ter, but it was ev­i­dent the change the board had started by re­leas­ing Dav What­more as head coach in the run-up to the World T20 had to be fol­lowed through.

Zim­babwe Cricket could not con­tinue with an in­terim tech­ni­cal set-up. Not that there was any­thing wrong with leg­endary South African pace bowler Makhaya Ntini, but the team needed some­one who not only un­der­stands the lo­cal game with both bat and bowl, but the board­room pol­i­tics as well.

Zim­bab­wean cricket has been in tur­moil and most of it has em­anated from the board­room rather than the field of play.

Streak knows and un­der­stands the true con­di­tion of the lo­cal game, hav­ing served it for more than a decade as a player. He was part of the 1999 Cricket World Cup squad that punched above its weight to progress to the Su­per Six stage of the tour­na­ment at the ex­pense of Eng­land fol­low­ing heroic vic­to­ries over In­dia and South Africa.

That cre­ated eu­pho­ria in this coun­try and for once, cricket seemed to over­take foot­ball as the most pop­u­lar sport. Young­sters played it in our coun­try’s dusty streets in the western sub­urbs, but with that suc­cess fol­lowed tur­moil.

Board­room wran­gles and sus­pi­cion be­tween the board and play­ers en­sued. The play­ers be­came all too pow­er­ful and for­warded de­mand af­ter de­mand be­fore cru­cial games.

There was a mass walk­out of white play­ers in 2004, leav­ing Zim­bab­wean cricket on the edge, and Streak was there, so he un­der­stands the dy­nam­ics.

We hope his re­turn to the lo­cal game as head coach will see a change in per­for­mance, and that the story fo­cuses once more on the field than in the board­room.

It was re­fresh­ing to hear Streak ooz­ing with con­fi­dence that he can help im­prove Zim­babwe’s per­for­mances and ac­tu­ally has a plan to turn it around.

He has promised to do every­thing he can to qual­ify Zim­babwe for the 2019 World Cup by un­earthing and ex­pos­ing the po­ten­tial of young crick­eters and lur­ing back some of its over­seas­based stars.

He is right in point­ing out that there has been a big lack of plan­ning in the past and we hope the board won’t con­tinue to throw span­ners in the works to frus­trate him from achiev­ing his in­tended mis­sion.

We like the idea of in­volv­ing play­ers in de­ci­sion­mak­ing, but he needs to draw a line to en­sure we don’t re­turn to the past when play­ers as­sumed too much power and held the board to ran­som on the eve of matches.

He can con­sult them, but he must have the fi­nal say. The board must also play ball by giv­ing un­con­di­tional sup­port.

He also needs to ex­er­cise cau­tion in lur­ing back play­ers that quit in­ter­na­tional cricket. The process must be done openly and in good spirit so that there is no fin­ger point­ing when the re­turn starts to hap­pen.

What we want to see of Streak is him treat­ing all play­ers in a fair, firm and friendly man­ner.

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