ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) is impressed with the direction the national team is taking under Australian coach Dave Whatmore, and have offered the experienced mentor a new four-year contract.
By Kevin Mapasure in Hobart Australia
Whatmore has been in charge of the team for the last three months and his current deal expires after the ongoing ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Zimbabwe have so far won only one of their first four Group B matches, only beating associate side the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while losing to South Africa, West Indies and more recently Pakistan.
They go into their fifth match against Ireland tomorrow with the aim of securing two points thus rescuing a campaign derailed by defeat to Pakistan in Brisbane last Sunday.
Zimbabwe’s winning record does not make for good reading, but it is their application that has impressed many in the cricket world.
The team received many plaudits for matching giants South Africa for a long period before falling 62 runs short of a mammoth 340-run victory target.
After winning against the UAE Zimbabwe also made good work of a 372-run chase against the West Indies, scoring 289 runs in 45 overs.
ZC is convinced Whatmore is steering the team in the right direction and expects results to come, hence the long-term deal.
This is probably the biggest contract ZC has offered any coach in recent times, with Andy Waller given a two-year deal, the same as Whatmore’s predecessor Mangongo.
ZC board chairman Wilson Manase this week confirmed they had agreed on a bumper deal with the coach.
“I can confirm that we have agreed a four-year deal with Whatmore,” said Manase.
“He is currently busy with the team in Australia where we feel he is doing a good job, but we have been in touch and have talked and agreed on a new contract. He will give us direction on his preferred assistants and if he is happy working with the people he has now they will be offered contracts.”
Batting coach Waller’s contract expires next month, but he is likely to get an offer to continue in that capacity.
He bounced back after being cast away in favour of Mangongo who replaced him as national team coach.
Waller was reappointed in a peripheral role of director of coaching, but is one of the beneficiaries of Whatmore’s appointment.
Whatmore is targeting a quarter-final finish at this World Cup despite only winning one match so far.
Zimbabwe face Ireland in another must-win Group B encounter at Bellerive Oval tomorrow at 5:30am local time.
Zimbabwe bowled well against Pakistan last Sunday, restricting their more accomplished opponents to 235. But with the bat they produced their worst performance so far at the tournament, falling 20 runs shy of the victory target.
The players got their first “hairdryer” treatment from Whatmore who believes Zimbabwe should have won that match. The former Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka coach was disappointed the batsmen deviated from the original plan and some of them fell cheaply.
It is his desire to succeed and the way he has moulded a team that has given itself a good chance of winning against top sides at this World Cup that have impressed ZC the most.
“We have lost three matches at the World Cup but you can see that we are heading in the right direction, said.
“Even in the matches that we lost we stayed in the game for long periods giving ourselves a chance in every match. We are convinced the results will come, and we are happy he agreed to a long term deal.”