NATIONAL men’s cricket team coach Dave Houghton is set for some serious talk with his employers at Zimbabwe Cricket over the plummeting fortunes of his team.
The coach apparently is not happy the Chevrons have relapsed to the state he found them in 18 months ago when he was appointed to deal with their shattered confidence following a series of battering in international assignments under Lalchand Rajput.
The recent run of results culminating in the T20I and ODI series home defeats to Ireland has left the coach in individual soul-searching and also entertaining the possibility of bringing in a “different voice in the changing room” to help boost the Chevrons’ fortunes.
Houghton has experienced the best and the worst of the Chevrons in the last 18 months.
After failing to qualify for both the 50-over and the T20 World Cups, losing a T20I series in Namibia and the recent debacle against Ireland, he believes the team has struck their lowest ebb again, and revitalisation is necessary.
Houghton suggested that a psychologist could be needed or some new faces could be roped in to beef up the technical side, even if it meant him stepping aside.
But this is something that he will be engaging the ZC authorities on over the coming days.
“I think the loss in the 50-over Qualifiers really hit us badly,” he said.
“We were playing great cricket at the time. We had done everything right, got ourselves in a position to basically go to the World Cup and then we messed it up in one game.
“That took a lot to get over. In fact, personally I haven’t gotten over it yet.”
Zimbabwe hosted the 50-over World Cup Qualifier and disappointed at home. They then travelled to Namibia for a T20I series and the ensuing T20 World Cup Qualifier and the slump continued as Namibia and Uganda qualified ahead of them. Apart from the World Cup frustrations, Zimbabwe suffered more disappointments, becoming the first Full Member to lose a series to Namibia. They also lost an ODI and T20I series to Ireland at home for the first time. “The two trips we took to Namibia; there should have been no reason why there was a hangover because we were playing a different format, we were playing T20, we were better than the sides we were playing against.
“It’s been a difficult time in the changing room, to be honest. When I first came in, every-body’s ears were wide open. Everything was new, everything was fantastic even though I didn’t bring in any fantastic new ideas, just the calmness.
“But now I am having to on a daily basis call for energy, enjoyment, more quality in practice, punctuality. All these things have just suddenly slipped a little bit. Will a psychologist fix that? I am not sure but, maybe a couple more different voices in the changing room will be the answer.
“The choices I need to make now; will the team get better with me here or do they need a new voice with me not here? Am I better served in another department? That’s something for me and the bosses to think about over the next week or so,” said Houghton.
Zimbabwe suffered a 2-1 defeat to Ireland in the T20I series before succumbing to a 2-0 ODI loss at Harare Sports Club. It could easily have been a whitewash had it not been for the intervention of the rain in the first match last week. Houghton reckons the team has lost its fighting spirit, which he saw when he arrived in June 2022. The Chevrons batting has been a big let down.
“I think we have been playing some bad cricket for a while now. But I think it’s also pretty clear to see that our batting has been a disaster for the last few months and it’s not getting any better. When I came in we had a long batting line up and in that we had some senior players and so on.
“The thing about having senior and junior players is that you need your senior players to stand up and they give courage to the rest of the team but it’s unfortunate in this tour we lost some of our senior players to injury and suspension and the up and coming batsmen are just not good enough.
“So it makes it very difficult to compete. We are always 50-100 runs short of what we should be to be competitive. We didn’t win a single toss but that’s beside the point, we should have been scoring on average 250. So we were letting ourselves down with the bat on every single occasion.”