Australian cricket coach Dave Whatmore has returned to Zimbabwe to formally seal a four-year deal with Zimbabwe Cricket and begin remoulding the team after a disappointing World Cup.
Whatmore travelled to Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup as the team’s coach, having signed a short-term deal that expired at the end of the tournament, but has since agreed to commit to a long term deal.
The 61-year-old arrived in the country Monday and is expected to formalise his new tenure before getting down to work preparing the team for assignments coming up this year.
His main priority will be to make Zimbabwe a more competitive side in the Test arena while also putting emphasis on improving the current number 10 ODI ranking in a bid to earn an automatic ticket to the 2019 World Cup, to be hosted by England and Wales.
ZC board chairman Wilson Manase returned from Australia on Tuesday where he attended the World Cup final and ICC meetings, and will look to wrap up Whatmore’s deal.
In support Croco Motors has already pledged a vehicle which the coach would use to conduct his duties.
Whatmore has already been asked to choose whom he wants to work with going forward, having been assisted by Dougie Hondo, Andy Waller and Walter Chawaguta at the World Cup.
Whatmore’s task will be to build mental strength as Zimbabwe has on several occasions thrust themselves into winning positions but failed to utilise them especially against South Africa, Ireland and Pakistan.
Zimbabwe will host India in July before the expected visit by New Zealand in a tour that will involve some Test cricket.
The possibility of playing Ireland and Pakistan is also being explored as Zimbabwe seeks more game time with a view to improving their ranking.
Only the top eight ranked ODI teams are guaranteed automatic places at the next World Cup while the bottom ranked full members will have to go through a qualifying tournament against associate sides.
The coach’s return should also see movement in the appointment of a new Test captain after Brendan Taylor quit international cricket after the World Cup.
While it is the Cricket Committee and ultimately the board that chooses the candidate, they will seek Whatmore’s input as he worked with the players prior to and at the World Cup.
Sean Williams has since emerged as a favourite to take over from Taylor as Test captain, while Elton Chigumbura is set to continue as ODI captain.
Zimbabwe played six matches at the World Cup losing five, but despite showing encouraging signs of competitiveness the fans are still not happy that the team failed to capitalise on winning positions.