Flower praises genius Houghton

28 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Flower praises genius Houghton FLOWERY PRAISE . . . Zimbabwe cricket great Andy Flower has showered praise on his legendary compatriot Dave Houghton, describing him as a tactical genius, following his instant success with the Chevrons in recent months

The Herald

JOHANNESBURG. — Africa had two representative nations at the last T20 Cricket World Cup a year ago but, unusually, they did not include Zimbabwe. This time, there will be three with Zimbabwe back where they belong and Namibia having earned automatic qualification after their performance a year ago.

Zimbabwe’s resurgence as a competitive nation once again has been almost exclusively down to the appointment of their first Test captain, Dave Houghton, as head national coach.

A brilliant tactician and even better “man manager’’, the veteran motivator — with extensive experience in a host of different environments — has transformed the results of the national team in recent times culminating in a historic ODI victory against Australia in early September.

Having slumped to record lows since their elevation to Test status in 1992, including an ICC ban from qualification for the 2019 World Cup because of administrative improprieties, the team laboured for results under previous head coach Lalchand Rajput despite brief moments of individual brilliance which hinted at team potential.

Former Zimbabwe captain, Andy Flower, who played alongside Houghton in their country’s first Test match in 1991 and went on to coach England to two Ashes victories, recognises the effect his former mentor has had in his homeland.

Flower has showered praise on his legendary compatriot Houghton, describing him as a tactical genius, following his instant success with the national side in recent months.

The duo of Flower and Houghton are widely regarded as Zimbabwe’s best-ever cricket players.

“He’s a genius and, although there was a lot of work to be done, I’m actually not surprised at his success and the transformation of the team under his leadership. Dave is a cricketer first and foremost, he is empathetic towards the players needs and they respond with their best performances on the field. I have great hope for Zimbabwe Cricket’s future, as do many lovers of the game around the world,” Flower said.

Houghton is preparing to lead Zimbabwe in their first major competition since his return at next month’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

Houghton has transformed Zimbabwe from no-hopers to a very fearless and competitive side since taking over from previous coach Rajput.

He led Zimbabwe to qualification for next month’s ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in his first assignment before masterminding T20 and ODI series victories over Bangladesh at home soon afterwards.

Zimbabwe also came very close to upstaging India in the third ODI in August before recording a historic ODI victory against Australia away from home in early September.

Zimbabwe will be making their return to the global tournament next month after a ban from international cricket due to government interference in the administration of the sport prevented them from taking part in the qualifiers for the 2019 T20 World Cup.

The Chevrons need victories against Scotland and Ireland in the Preliminary section of the tournament to progress to the main section.

They will also be quietly confident of causing an upset against the West Indies, who are also in Pool A of the preliminaries.

Qualification for the World Cup was previously played out as a 14-team Global Qualifier but this edition featured two separate competitions of eight teams.

Zimbabwe suffered a number of “scares’’ during qualifying including a must-win “final” against the Netherlands in which they scrambled to a below-par total of 132 with Sean Williams (28) and Regis Chakabva (27) making vital runs before holding their collective nerve to dismiss the Netherlands for just 95.

Zimbabwe will now target victories against Scotland and Ireland in the Preliminary section of the tournament to progress to the main section but nobody should rule out an upset against the mighty West Indies. Or at least, the once mighty West Indies.

Namibia qualified for the World Cup by virtue of reaching the “main section’’ of last year’s tournament, along with Scotland, both of whom finished in the top two of their respective groups in the ‘preliminary section” at the expense of the more strongly fancied Netherlands and Ireland.

Hard-hitting allrounder, Gerhard Erasmus, again captains the squad and is joined by a core of experienced players in JJ Smit, Stephen Baard, Jan Frylinck, Nicol Loftie Eaton, and former Proteas allrounder David Wiese while the attack will be led, once again, by the highly rated Reuben Trumpelmann.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Lohan Louwrens, batsman Divan la Cock and seamer Tangeni Lungameni are the new faces in the squad which has had its coaching SA “dream team’’ of Pierre de Bruyn and Albie Morkel enhanced by the addition of Albie’s brother, Morne, for the tournament. Just as they did a year ago in Oman and the UAE, expect the Namibians to ruffle a few fancied feathers and perhaps even cause another upset or two, but they aren’t going to reach the semi-finals.

While the Proteas will, as always, command the majority of Africa’s cricketing attention during the tournament, there should be no surprises if heads are turned towards their northern neighbours once or twice. Both Zimbabwe and Namibia’s progress curves are most definitely heading upwards.

Preliminary Groups

Group A: Sri Lanka, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, The Netherlands

Group B: West Indies, Scotland, Zimbabwe, Ireland. — Supersport.com

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