Heath Streak the right man for top ZC job
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.