Mangongo keeps his focus
Paul Munyuki and Jonathan John
ZIMBABWE cricket coach Steve Mangongo says his team have been losing matches, even before he took over, and there is no need to panic simply because they have lost to the world’s best sides in ODI matches on home soil in the past few days.
Mangongo was in charge of the ship when they crashed to a 0-3 whitewash defeat at the hands of Big Brother South Africa at Queens.
He took over from Malcolm Waller who could only guide Zimbabwe to a 2-2 draw against minnows Afghanistan.
And on Monday, in the first match of the triangular series that also features Australia and South Africa, the Zimbabweans were blown away by the men from Down Under in a huge 198-run defeat.
Mangongo told The Herald yesterday that those who were now targeting him simply because his team had lost to the best two ODI sides in the world, had very short memories.
“Before I took over we were losing to Afghanistan and I believe we are work in progress,” said Mangongo.
“In the last game (against Australia) we had a very good stand upfront and stood against the best bowling attack in the world.
“We managed a 50-run partnership (between Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza-Butt) and it was good that the number three batsman (Masakadza) contributed 70 runs.
“The morale in the camp is fantastic and we want to improve as a team, everyone knows what is expected from them, we are back in training and the selectors will meet tomorrow (today) to select the team that will represent the country against South Africa,” said Mangongo.
Opener Tino Mawoyo said it was important for the players to stand by their coach.
“He is someone new, as coach of the team, and he has his own way of doing things,” said Mawoyo, who failed with the bat in his comeback game against the Aussies.
“He is trying to put his own systems in place and he is doing all he thinks will bring results to the team.
“At the end of the day he is the man in charge of the team and he is the one responsible for the results so as players we have to adapt to the demands of the coach and we are happy with him as we see no problem in him.”
The Zimbabweans will be watching from a distance today as Australia and South Africa clash in the second game in the series at Harare Sport Club.
“It’s a big triangular for us,” said Proteas all-rounder JP Duminy.
“For us, coming off quite a good series against Zimbabwe, our tails will be a bit up. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, don’t get me wrong; Australia are number one in the world and play a good brand of cricket but they also haven’t played much in the last few months.
“We probably do have the advantage in terms of match practice so hopefully we can make the most of the advantage.
“The wicket in Harare is a lot slower so it might be a strategy that we might try and use, our strength has always been our pace attack, we are going to rely on that no matter what conditions we are faced with.
“The great thing about our seam attack is that they can adapt to all conditions so it will be a good challenge for us.
“This is the pinnacle of cricket, you want to play against the best in the world, so we are looking forward to it, It’s not going to be any easy challenge, Australia have a lot of match-winners and we will need to find a way to curb them.”
It’s a quality contest and even though the hosts are not in action, real fans of the game should be at Harare Sports Club to watch this titanic battle.
Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey (vc), Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.
AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla (vc), Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi, Dale Steyn.