The Zimbabwe national cricket team is pulling out all stops to exorcise their spin demons ahead of probably their most important visit to Bangladesh next week.
The technical team has been beefed up by the arrival of Wayne James as assistant coach, as well as Dougie Hondo as bowling coach.
Former national team coach Andy Waller who is now director of coaching has been helping out head coach Steve Mangongo especially with fielding drills, while Zimbabwe “A” coach Shephered Makunura has also been weighing in with vital
information, fresh from the tour of Bangladesh.
But crucially for Zimbabwe South African coach Justin Summons completed his week-long flirtation with the team whose spin frailties he has been trying to help solve.
Spin is obviously Bangladesh’s biggest weapon and the home side will be looking to fashion it to devastating effect in this three-match Test series.
There is all to play for as the rivals in the lowest rungs of Test rankings battle for supremacy and a better position.
Currently Bangladesh is the lowest ranked Test nation on tenth while Zimbabwe, who have won two of their last three Tests against the Asians, are ninth.
With the spectre of the lowest ranked side being forced to defend its Test status against an associate side in due course, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
It is a series Mangongo and his team know they simply cannot afford to lose.
Mangongo has harnessed all available expertise, thus the invitation of Waller and Makunura to help with training sessions.
It is Summons’ inclusion however that could make the difference for Zimbabwe and he believes he has helped the team much in his short visit.
“The whole programme is about trying to simulate what the batsmen will encounter in Bangladesh and help them come up with a game plan which they should stick to,” said Summons. “We are focusing mainly on how the Bangladesh spinners bowl and what our batsmen should do.
We use a lot of video analysis to show the players how the Bangladesh players bowl and prove to our players how good they are so that they can have confidence in their game.”
Summons said local players had the ability to compete with top teams.
“Zimbabwe players have the ability and talent; it’s all about having a game plan and executing it. On their day they can beat anyone and they should beat Bangladesh. Conditions in Bangladesh are tough, it’s not easy there; the weather conditions are not favourable for visiting teams but fortunately we have a lot of good young spinners here. I was impressed by John Nyumbu and Wellington Masakadza. Bangladesh’s big weapon will be spin, but it can also be Zimbabwe’s weapon.”
After their spin camp the team travels to Chiredzi today where they hope temperatures in the lowveld will condition them for the settings in Bangladesh where temperatures are high.
Following the heavy blow of losing their most experienced spinner Prosper Utseya who has been suspend by the ICC over his bowling action, doors might have opened up for the latest offering from the Masakadza family, Wellington.
Wellington recently toured Bangladesh with the Zimbabwe A squad and emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the unofficial Tests.
On the other hand the return of Craig Ervine might help Zimbabwe’s cause as he is one of the best players of spin among available players.