MOUNTAINEERS coach Gary Brent, MidWest Rhinos’ Grant Flower and Mashonaland Eagles coach Steve Mangongo have emerged as the frontrunners for the national cricket team job to be vacated by Alan Butcher in March 2013.
Report by Kevin Mapasure
The three are among several coaches, foreign and local, who have applied for the position.
Interviews are set to be conducted before Christmas, but IndependentSport is reliably informed one of the three is likely to get the job.
Zimbabwe Cricket has received an overwhelming response after advertising the position but indications suggest the board will settle for a local coach.
“We received a good response but the new coach is likely to be a local one and among the applicants it looks like Brent, Flower and Mangongo are the frontrunners,” said an informed source.
Brent has been at the helm of Mountaineers since South African great Alan Donald left the side and has led the Manicaland-based franchise to glory in the Pro-40 and Stanbic T-20 Championships.
Brent, a medium-pace bowler in his playing days, represented Zimbabwe in four Tests, taking seven wickets while playing 70 one-day internationals (ODIs) and picking 75 wickets.
Flower has a more glorious playing career which he would want to follow up with a similarly successful coaching stint like his more famous brother Andy, the current England coach.
Flower played 67 Tests for Zimbabwe scoring 3 475 runs and represented the country in 221 ODIs in which he scored 6 571 runs in a career that spanned 12 years from 1992 to 2004 in Test matches. He played ODIs up to 2010, albeit with a couple of breaks in between.
Mangongo is the current assistant to Butcher, and is head coach of Zim “A”. He played first class cricket and established Takashinga which has churned out a number of national team players.
Mangongo is credited with unearthing and grooming the likes of Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya.
Meanwhile, former national team captain Prosper Utseya has quit Mountaineers to save his international career.
The spinner now plays for Mashonaland Eagles and his departure from Manicaland is believed to have been precipitated by a clash with coach Brent.
Utseya accused Brent of trying to end his international career prematurely by denying him the opportunity to play first class cricket, a prerequisite for the national team.
Brent told Utseya that he should concentrate on playing T-20 cricket, a move which angered Utseya who believes he still has a future in the ODI and the Test sides.
Utseya is one of the 10 players with central contracts and has been among the team’s best bowlers, especially in the ODIs.