‘Re­vive do­mes­tic cricket to en­sure suc­cess’

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

BORN on De­cem­ber 20, 1970, for­mer Zim­babwe na­tional team crick­eter Grant Flower speaks on the fu­ture of Zim­babwe cricket.

The all-rounder, known for his feat in the One-Day In­ter­na­tional ( ODI) for­mat, was known for form­ing a for­mi­da­ble al­liance with his el­der and more pro­lific brother Andy Flower. Grant is cur­rently the bat­ting coach of Pak­istan. Flower played 67 test matches for Zim­babwe with a bat­ting av­er­age of just be­low 30 and a high­est score of 211 not out against Pak­istan and also played 221 ODIs with an av­er­age of 33 and a high­est score of 142 not out.

Flower’s Zim­babwe ca­reer was dis­rupted around 2004, but he made a sur­prise come­back in 2010. In 2010, on the in­sis­tence of for­mer team­mate Alas­tair Camp­bell, he made a re­turn to the Zim­babwe na­tional side that sur­prised ev­ery­one.

How­ever, he did not find much suc­cess in his en­deav­our and kept his come­back stint short as in his own words, he did not wish to hold back any young, up­com­ing player at his ex­pense. Camp­bell wanted him to play the 2011 World Cup, but Flower re­lented. Flower de­vel­oped a taste for the job of im­part­ing his knowl­edge of cricket even while he was still an ac­tive player. In fact, while he played the fi­nal matches of his ca­reer with Zim­babwe in 2010, he was al­ready ap­pointed as their bat­ting coach.

F o rme r cri ck­eter n ow based in

South Africa, Du­misani Mankun­zini brings you some ex­cerpts of an in­ter­view he held re­cently with the crick­eter when he was with the Pak­istan team in South Africa. He also speaks about Pak­istan life, brother Andy and the fu­ture of ZC. Du­misani Mankun­zini Grant Flower (GF)

D.M: Hi Grant.

GF: Du­mie, how’s it?

DM: Great to see you wear­ing a kit that one would not ex­pect to see you wear­ing.

GF: Thanks mate, I am now used to it, it’s been four years now wear­ing it (Pak­istan kit).

DM: How is it in Pak­istan and be­ing so far away from home?

GF: It’s been good. I am lov­ing it, the peo­ple there have been very good to me and I en­joy work­ing with them.

DM: You have done a lot of work with Pak­istan bat­ters, what has

been your

Mostly hard work, there is no big se­cret. Most coaches will tell you that at this level it’s more of fine tun­ing and player man­age­ment, not re­ally much on the tech­nique, just giv­ing them con­fi­dence and mak­ing right de­ci­sions. A lot of stuff comes from the play­ers and as the coach I am just there to guide.

DM: You have played and coached Zim­babwe and now you are the bat­ting coach of Pak­istan, what could you say is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two teams?

GF: Ob­vi­ously the cul­tures are very dif­fer­ent and peo­ple in Pak­istan live and wor­ship cricket. Cricket is not just a sport but their life and there are a lot of peo­ple play­ing the game in Pak­istan.

DM: In terms of tal­ent what could you say is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two coun­tries?

GF: Zim­babwe has tal­ent but very few peo­ple are play­ing the game whereas in Pak­istan ev­ery­one plays it and there is a larger pool of play­ers to choose from, cricket is their re­li­gion.

DM: What is your take on the cur­rent Zim­babwe squads?

GF: It’s def­i­nitely a great bunch of tal­ented play­ers, very un­for­tu­nate not to have qual­i­fied for the World Cup.

DM: What do you think should be the way for­ward from here?

GF: Get the fran­chise cricket up and run­ning as well as club cricket not only that but let play­ers play more com­pet­i­tive cricket.

DM: Ear­lier on you men­tioned that cricket is a re­li­gion in Pak­istan. Would you also say it’s a hobby?

GF: Nkun­zie, cricket and many other sports like foot­ball are not a hobby any­more. It is now busi­ness and a job for most of us and the rest of the play­ers.

DM: In sim­pler terms you mean cricket needs money to func­tion?

Yes buddy, that is why Zim­babwe cricket has lost so many play­ers go­ing to play cricket over­seas.

DM: As you know the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion back home, what do you think should be done to stop play­ers from go­ing over­seas?

GF: ZC must come up with a solid plan to give play­ers good con­tracts and stick to their word.

D.M: What is your take on the play­ers who have since left ZC to go and play cricket over­seas with the lat­est player to leave for county be­ing Bless­ing Muzara­bani.

GF: Like I said, cricket is now a job and when you work you ex­pect to be paid and that hasn’t been the case in Zim­babwe hence the play­ers mov­ing. To an­swer your ques­tion I think Bless­ing will bounce back, let him get more ex­pe­ri­ence in the UK, just like Bren­dan Tay­lor and Kyle Jarvis are back now.

DM: Go­ing back to the time you were bat­ting coach for Zim­babwe, you were work­ing with Heath Streak as the bowl­ing coach and Al­lan Butcher as the head coach and the three of you have ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket. The cit­i­zens of Zim­babwe al­ways wanted for­mer play­ers to coach but when you guys got the role to coach, you lost 99% of your games. What was the prob­lem?

GF: I don’t have a magic an­swer for that but without proper do­mes­tic cricket it was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to com­pete at in­ter­na­tional level. You have a tiny do­mes­tic cricket league and ex­pect to play against the best in the world. It’s like watch­ing car­toon net­work.

DM: What is your take on the cur­rent young play­ers com­ing through rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try, play­ers like Brian Chari, Tari­sai Musakanda and Bren­don Mavuta?

GF: Very tal­ented play­ers com­ing up. They had some good games here in South Africa in the one day se­ries and also did well in Bangladesh win­ning the test match.

DM: Do you think Zim­babwe cricket will lose them just like Bless­ing Muzara­bani?

GF: Like I said ear­lier on Bless­ing might come back, he is go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence good county cricket with North­ern Hamp­shire and he got a great op­por­tu­nity and made a de­ci­sion, un­for­tu­nately for Zim­babwe cricket they were not pay­ing him enough. Re­gard­ing the other guys they are good young play­ers with lots of tal­ent but I don’t see them leav­ing the coun­try.

DM: Con­sid­er­ing the way you parted ways with Zim­babwe Cricket and given the op­por­tu­nity to bounce back and coach un­der the new board chaired by Temba Mkhuh­lani and act­ing Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Give­more Makoni would you take the job?

GF: Not yet, my con­tract car­ries on un­til Au­gust af­ter the World Cup with Pak­istan but never say never, you don’t know what can hap­pen but at the mo­ment I am still en­joy­ing my role with Pak­istan with lots of chal­lenges ahead of the World Cup.

DM: What if ZC had to of­fer you a post in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of cricket?

GF: I don’t think that is my thing. I en­joy coach­ing be­ing on the field. So no, I won’t take it.

DM: Peo­ple have been won­der­ing if your brother Andy will come back home even to visit. Will we see Andy com­ing to the new Zim­babwe?

GF: Andy is still in Eng­land con­tracted by the Eng­land Cricket Board coach­ing the Lions Eng­land na­tional Academy. He had his good times with Zim­babwe cricket and those days are long gone.

DM: If ZC ap­proached you to­day with the aim to send through some youngstars to come and play and be coached in Pak­istan would you help in that re­gard?

GF: Ow yes Du­mie I would, but they will have to go through the Pak­istan Cricket Board and agree on some­thing and I have never thought of that, it’s ac­tu­ally a good idea. I love the cricket brains in you Du­mie.

DM: Just be­fore you leave mate, what would you ad­vise ZC to do in or­der to re­vive cricket?

GF: They need to bring back do­mes­tic cricket and take good care of play­ers be­fore ev­ery­one else and get ju­nior cricket struc­tures in or­der but with what I have seen in 2018 Zim­babwe cricket has great fu­ture with lots of young stars com­ing through.

DM: Thank you for your time Grant and all the best in the SA tour.

GF: You are wel­come Du­mie and thanks for the great in­ter­view. Happy new year by the way.

DM: Thanks coach and same to you.

Grant Flower

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