With the fall of Zimbabwe cricket from the upper echelon to what seemed to be the bottom of the cricket pile. Plagued by years of failures, the Zimbabwe cricket union was between a rock and a hard place as they were looking for a way out and restore pride in the national outfit, after a long and tenuous struggle the weight fell on the shoulders of one Heath Streak as he took up the momentous task and took the reigns of lead coach.
For those who do not know who Heath Streak is, he is one of the Zimbabwean cricket legends who has his name platted in the history books as the only Zimbabwean bowler to take more the 100 test wickets, and 1 of 4 to have more than 100 ODI wickets. Known to be a fierce captain have a heart of a lion who was versatile with both the ball and the bat. He made his Test debut in Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan 1993/1994 making his mark by taking 8 wickets in the 2nd Test at Rawalpindi ( 9–14 December 1993). In the match, Streak won the Player of the series award, took 22 wickets at an average of 13.54. He bettered his best bowling figures in 1995 when Pakistan toured Zimbabwe taking 6/90 in the first Test at Harare.
In 2000/2001, he won 2-man of the series awards, first in Zimbabwe’s tour of England and then in Bangladesh’s tour of Zimbabwe. He along with Andy Flower set the record for the highest 7th wicket partnership for Zimbabwe in ODIs(130). He retired from international cricket in October 2005 to become captain of Warwickshire County Cricket Club having previously played county cricket for Hampshire. He also captains his fellow exiled players from Zimbabwe in the Red Lions team, which plays charity games in England. In August 2009, was appointed as the bowling coach of Zimbabwean cricket national team. He was also given the responsibility of working with the young Zimbabwean fast bowlers and for franchise cricket.
Later it also appeared that Heath Streak is the most possible candidate for the head coach job of Zimbabwean national team In 2013, Streak contract was not renewed for financial reasons. Zimbabwe Cricket had offered Streak a consultancy role but they cannot guarantee him a set number of working days or specific pay which has forced him to stay out of the preparations for Bangladesh series. Finances permitting at his franchise in Bulawayo, the Matabeleland Tuskers, he remained coach there. He was appointed Bangladesh’s bowling coach in May 2014 until 2016. In October 2016, he was appointed Head Coach of the Zimbabwe Cricket team. Streak has been tasked with ensuring Zimbabwe qualify for the 2019 World Cup, and will be allowed to continue in his role as bowling coach for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
Lets digress for a little and talk about a basic fundamental of sport, there are 5 principles that one should follow in terms of reviving any sport, and we don’t mean reviving a sport that is facing a season of losses but looking at a team that has had bad run for more than a decade. The 5 principles focus of 5 aspects 1) Change of management, 2) Change of coach, 3) Change in coaching staff, 4)Identification of players and combinations, 5) intense competition exposure. ZCU seemed to be on the right path of figuring this out but this basic principle seems to have eluded them again as they decided to sacrifice Streak and his staff which includes South African all rounder legend Lance Klusner (who have a wealth of experience put together) in an act of desperation for wins and their reason was that they had failed to deliver results.
One should not forget that cricket in Zimbabwe much like all the sport in the country have fallen victim to poor support. Instead of investing more and being patient they saw the failure to qualify for the world cup as the red flag to ousts the veteran coach, which goes to show the top management have a poor understanding of return on investment especially when it comes to sport. Streak and his staff have pulled a victory over Sri Lanka which was a sign of what the team could achieve with more investment, time and support but no the ZCU paid no attention to this and focused on the losses that Zimbabwe faced and argue that countries like UAE, Ireland etc are not countries which should be worrying over, well spoiler alert they are as they invest a lot more in sport than Zimbabwe has in the past 10 yrs and look at the bigger picture regardless of wins or losses.
Changing a coach and staff on a regular causes more inconsistencies and confusion as different coaches have different work ethics and ideologies meaning as a result the team will be reshuffled on a regular, and all of this equals lack of consistency and poor in fact very poor thinking and organisation on the management from the cricket union, but this goes to all the sports and not just cricket.
Zimbabwe cricket needs Streak and his staff more than ever if they are to even stand a chance to get a fraction close to the power house it used to be,otherwise it will just be another has been that will keep on falling victim to lesser teams at every turn. One can only hope this to be resolved ASAP as we do not need to be playing politics rather let Streak get back to work.