Zim Board XI Coach Sees Positive Side

ZIMBABWE Board XI cricket coach Steven Mangongo is drawing positives from the recent tour to Harare by the Pakistan Cricket Academy despite the whitewash defeat in the two four-day and three one-day games.

Tafadzwa Ngulube, a 20-year-old right-handed batsman from Bulawayo, received special mention from the former selector and national team assistant coach.
 “It was very good from a developmental point of view,” Mangongo told IndependentSport. “Four youngsters were making their debuts at this level. Tafadzwa Ngulube, one of the debutants, didn’t score runs in the first “Test”. He top-scored with 95 opening the batting in the second match. I think Zimbabwe struggles with batters who can bat at the top and that boy showed he can bat.”
Both first-class fixtures went into the fourth day, an encouraging factor, Mangongo said: “It shows that the boys can apply themselves.
“In the second game, we scored 300 runs plus in two innings after being bowled for less than 200 in the first. In fact, we saw quite a few 50s from guys like Bonaparte (Mujuru) Timycen (Maruma), Regis (Chakabva) and Friday (Kasteni). So you definitely can see on the graph that the boys are learning the demands of Test cricket.”
Mangongo said the matches against the young Asian tourists shows an expansion of the country’s player pool.
“For a country to do well, you need variety. In the past we used to have national team players also playing in the A and Board XI sides. This tour was a positive change because almost all the guys were development players.”
Twice in the second four-dayer and once in the second one-dayer the Board XI got into winning positions but ended up losing both matches, a factor Mangongo attributed to inexperience.
“It shows the boys are not experienced,” he said. “When you get into strong positions like that you need guys that are experienced to kill off the game. When you bowl to tail-enders it must be full and straight. This can only be done by experienced players. Most of the Pakistan Academy players have played an average of 50 first-class matches. It was virtually the Pakistan A side minus just a few players, so they know how to kill a game. Our guys don’t play enough longer-version games. The remedy here is to play more international four-day games. You must have consistency. If you only get to play again after six months it’s like you are starting afresh. We must be careful not to kill the momentum.”
He said of the team’s one-day performances:  “You can see that in all three games, we took out the top batsmen. In terms of strike bowling the boys did well. What was disappointing was the batting, but in the last match we got into good positions twice. So there was improvement.”

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