By Austin Karonga
Former Zimbabwe U19 coach Stephen Mangongo, pictured below, believes the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board is “crazy” in the aftermath of the 5-0 ODI series whitewash against Pakistan in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe were so poor during the series as they missed a number of their senior players, who opted to boycott due to their remuneration stand-off with ZC.
Mangongo is a cricket development stalwart credited with nurturing most of the country’s cricketers to become household names in international cricket.
Some of the cricketers, who passed through his hands, include Tatenda Taibu, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Allester Maregwede, Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza among other notable players.
In the just-ended series against Pakistan, the national selectors included former U19 captains, all-rounder Liam Roche and leg-spinner Brendan Mavuta in the squad.
Roche played two matches against Pakistan while another former U19 player wicket keeper batsman Ryan Murray was another Mangongo protégée to be given a nod.
A miffed Mangongo said the entire ZC board should get their heads examined after they sacked him for failing to produce players that can make the step up to the national team.
“Where did Murray come from? The lad has come from the U19 program designed and tutored by me,” Mangongo told the Daily News.
“Obviously, the ZC board has no idea and no understanding at all of the hard yards we put in to produce such gems.
“During the Kenya tour, the best performer in a Zim A team full of senior players was Rugare Magarira from the U19 squad but at the same time we had people saying there was nothing coming out of the U19s.
“Therefore, for anyone to say the U19 set up was not delivering polished products is a completely delusional or that person does not have any fundamental understanding of cricket.
“William Mashinge is earning great reviews in the United Kingdom club cricket circles and has already represented Zim A.”
Mangongo was sacked in March shortly after the U19 World Cup with the ZC board accusing the coach of failing to deliver on his mandate.
However, the coach accuses the board of failing to put in place proper structures to enable player progression within the system.
“With a proper pathway, the next two phenomenal cricketers to come out of Zimbabwe are Wesley Madhevere, who averaged 49 with the bat at the 2018 World Cup in New Zealand, and Milton Shumba, who averaged 44,” Mangongo said.
“These two boys’ stats are the best ever achievement by a Zimbabwean at U19 Youth World Cup.
“These two lads are serious operators, who in a good cricket set up with a functional system will be under mentorship and drilled into fully-fledged internationals.”
At the moment, Mangongo believes ZC is short-circuiting the route of young cricketers, who end up being thrown into the deep end without any proper guidance.
“These highly talented boys from the U19 and Academy are being destroyed by selfish self-serving people,” he said.
“These genuine potentially talented boys like Murray, Roche, Tarisai Musakanda and Blessing Muzarabani should be busy polishing their skills sets in the A side.
“The bashing and annihilation they received from Pakistan will leave these boys so traumatised.
“International cricket takes no prisoners; you can’t send boys to do a men’s job.
“This is what happens when you are fire-fighting without a functional conveyor belt system of talent pathway.
“People who know nothing about cricket think they can simply dumb youngsters into the national team but they don’t realise it takes nearly eight years of investment to produce an international hard-core cricketer.”
Mangongo also bemoaned the death of the Zimbabwe Rising Academy which was the brainchild of former ZC convenor of selectors Tatenda Taibu, who was the first black Zimbabwe Test captain.
“Taibu’s vision of the Academy was crucified by clueless people; instead of supporting the idea, they completely destroyed it,” he said.
“Taibu had done an amazing job because the Academy cricketers got a chance to play 60 matches while staying in the United Kingdom against quality opposition.
“Now a resourceful person like Taibu is chased away. India, Australia or South Africa don’t throw away their critical resources which is human resources; that’s why Australia still have someone like Greg Chappel in their coaching structures.” –DailyNews