Zimbabwe national cricket team coach Steve Mangongo has come out fighting in defence of his ability to steer the national team to competitiveness which has been questioned following a tour whitewash in Bangladesh that has drawn a barrage of criticism.
While Mangongo shares the disappointment over the results with fans he has drawn some positives from the tour in which the team lost three Tests and five ODIs.
He refused to quit despite a welter of criticism following the Bangladesh debacle and his lack of Test-playing experience.
Mangongo is less than three months into his contract as national team coach with results swinging from one end to the other.
Zimbabwe beat Australia in an ODI during a triangular series that also involved South Africa, but the Bangladesh setback has drowned out the famous result.
Some have described it as the worst performance by the national team, demanding the sacking of the technical team.
Mangongo is however fighting back, suggesting the team is moving in the right direction despite the deep disappointment in Bangladesh.
“We are all disappointed with the results and we need to do better, but as a technical team I think we are doing our bit,” said Mangongo. “Some of the players have improved a lot in this short period. Douglas Hondo (bowling coach) has worked with the bowlers for less than two months but already Tendai Chatara who was bowling around 133 km/hr is now bowling above 140. Elton Chigumbura whom we omitted from the Test match against South Africa because he was not bowling is now a genuine all-rounder again.”
Some of the batsmen had also improved with Hamilton Masakadza scoring his career best 158 runs in Test cricket while Regis Chakabva also scored a maiden century in the second Test.
Chigumbura’s best performance with the ball was in the second innings of the first Test which Zimbabwe lost by three wickets, taking 4 for 21 in 10.3 overs.
Mangongo said it was frustrating that two of the highest individual run scorers in all three Tests came from Zimbabwe, yet the team still lost the series 3-0.
“Masakadza and Chakabva were among the three top run scorers yet we still lost the series. Some individuals did well but our problem was that collectively we could not take advantage of crucial moments that could have won us the matches. Sometimes we had Bangladesh in the corner but allowed them out.”
He said the major factor in Zimbabwe’s defeats was the lack of consistency by senior batsmen.
“Sibanda, Taylor and Masakadza are our senior batsmen, a half century from these guys is not good enough. We expect them to score centuries and lead the team.
A 50 from Solomon Mire is acceptable. Some of these guys have played a lot of cricket in Bangladesh yet still they struggle. It’s disappointing because you would have thought their experience in those conditions will come in handy.”
Sibanda has struggled the most among senior batsmen as he has not managed a half century in his last 17 Test innings, while a half century has remained elusive in the last 10 ODIs.
The technical team is expected to present a report to ZC over the tour and they are likely to dwell on some positives picked up from the tour, among them being the ability to bat for at least 100 overs.
“We used to struggle to bat for at least 100 overs but we managed to achieve that in Bangladesh so I see that as progress. I think generally what we have learnt from this tour is that we have the skill, but we still lack the mental strength thus I think we require the services of a sports psychologist.”