Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is chasing Dave Houghton to become the national team’s batting coach after agreeing terms with Dave Whatmore who will soon be confirmed as the team’s new head coach.
ZC has set out to invest heavily in the technical team in a bid to turn around the fortunes of a team that hit an all-time low with defeats to Afghanistan and Hong Kong, never mind Bangladesh.
While the Whatmore deal is already in the bag, ZC’s bid to lure back home one of the best batsmen the country has ever produced has hit a snag. Houghton has signed on as Middlesex’s batting coach and may be unwilling to relinquish a post that keeps him closer to his family in the UK.
That has not stopped ZC from trying as they drive towards setting up an experienced technical team to lift the team out of its troubles. Whatmore is expected in the country on Sunday to kickstart 2015 World Cup preparations, with time running out ahead of the February tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
A source told IndependentSport that contrary to social media speculation that Murray Goodwin, who turned his back on Zimbabwe in his playing days, would return to fill the batting coach’s role, it is Houghton that ZC has contacted.
Local franchise side Tuskers coach Wayne James was interviewed for the post, but the board is going for coaches that have experience at international level.
“We never spoke to Murray Goodwin about coaching here; we are looking at international coaching experience more than anything,” said the source. “The person we want is Houghton but there is a complication since he has got a job at Middlesex. On the other hand Whatmore can do the batting-coach duties.”
ZC has endured financial troubles in recent years, but the board led by Wilson Manase has committed itself to investing more resources on players.
The possible expensive combination of Houghton and Whatmore in addition to bowling coach Douglas Hondo is evidence ZC is pulling all stops to improve results that have threatened the survival of the game in the country.
Houghton has a wealth of coaching experience having coached Zimbabwe in the past, as well as roles in Zimbabwe’s franchise and county cricket. He is regarded as the second best batsman to come out of Zimbabwe after Andy Flower, and fits the profile of coaches ZC is after.
Part of the investment on improving the national team will see the appointment of Alistair Campbell as managing director cricket. Last week ZC announced the axing of Steve Mangongo as national team coach after a debacle in Bangladesh where the team lost all Tests and ODIs.