‘Revive domestic cricket to ensure success’
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
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.