By Bongani Ndlovu
Heath Streak sacrificed On a Good Friday… But Whose Sins is He Being Fired for?
This was a tweet by one Master Eli after Zimbabwe Cricket announced that they had sacked the former Zimbabwe captain and premium bowler and his technical team after a disastrous Cricket World Cup Qualifier where they failed to make it to England and Wales in 2019.
The decision came as a shock to many cricket fans around the country and the world leaving many wondering.
ZC purged the Chevrons set up with Streak and his back room staff axed alongside former captain Tatenda Taibu and Steve Mangongo.
After this sacking, there was a backlash with ZC being condemned by cricket followers from all angles.
Some individuals said the ZC administrators were a joke who should have bowled themselves out of the game.
Names like Afghanistan, UAE, Scotland and Ireland are not nations that Zimbabwe should be in contention with and rightly so, ZC is correct in giving the
impression that some games should be walk overs.This “supposed walk over of a team” qualified for the World Cup with a coach who was here 14 years ago.
But what ZC has ignored is that just like the country’s economy our cricket has been stagnant with little progression in over a decade.
The so-called minnows have been seriously setting up proper cricket structures that produce a conveyor belt of players that will compete for a place in the national team.
The question is what significant development has the country’s cricket embarked on in the last few years besides being known for changing technical teams?
Zimbabwe can no longer compare to teams such as South Africa or India who continue to produce quality in all their departments.
These nations have not stopped investing in their cricket. If one looks at all these successful sides they have running leagues that get players playing week in and week out so that when players in the national team get injured or suspended they is always someone very competent to step in.
And the most embarrassing thing is that Afghanistan that has been a thorn in the flesh for Zimbabwe for some years now is being coached by the Chevrons’ former coach, Phil Simmons.
This shows that 14 years ago when Afghanistan was still in cricket obscurity and Zimbabwe cricket was in turmoil, they were busy building their team and these are the fruits, while Zimbabwe was still at a standstill.
And the teams that Simmons has been coaching have vastly improved.
After his unceremonious dismissal by Zimbabwe, Simmons went on to coach Ireland, who performed well in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, and West Indies who he guided to the World Twenty20 title.
Instead of Zimbabwe cricket being trigger happy and questioning how we won some games so narrowly and lost some games so cheaply, the fact of the matter is that the associate sides have become better.
The days that we thought that because we are a full member and we can bulldoze over the associates are long gone.
The associates are taking cricket development very seriously and are result oriented.
So the sacking of Streak and company won’t change anything.
On the other hand, Streak has himself to blame because he was given everything for him to make it to the World Cup.
He demanded tools and personnel to ensure that the country qualifies and ZC provided them.
Brendon Taylor and Kyle Jarvis had to leave competitive leagues they were playing in to play for the national team but alas the results did not impress.
It was a business decision where Streak failed to make a return on the investment.
In that case ZC is justified as they poured a lot of money into this project in the hope of securing a place in the World Cup. With associate sides in the qualifiers and home advantage, it was supposed to be a walk in the park.
Some even made outlandish claims that someone in the Chevrons camp was involved in match fixing and sold games to betting syndicates, as the returns for a Zimbabwean loss and failure to qualify were extremely high. Therefore for ZC to save face after finding out they fired everyone.
What became clear is that the Chevrons became a two men team with Sikandar Raza and Taylor expected to carry the day in each and every match.
Naturally this spelt doom as it became clear that in their absence no one else could raise the nation’s hopes.
This was so with the UAE match where seasoned batsmen like Hamilton Masakadza let the team down with their poor batting.
While Streak’s departure could be a debate for another day, Chevrons players need to seriously introspect as they broke the nation’s hearts. The Chronicle