From being also-rans, Zimbabwe slowly became the team everyone took seriously, before political turmoil brought them back to square one. But normalcy seems to be returning to their set-up. They’ve beaten West Indies, India and Sri Lanka this year.
Recently appointed captain of the team, Elton Chigumbura believes they’re heading in the right direction --- especially with the franchise system at the domestic level, which has attracted foreign players and coaches.
Yahoo! Cricket caught up with Chigumbura to find out how are they placed with the World Cup coming up. Excerpts:
On how Zimbabwe are preparing for the World Cup
We are here in Bangladesh right now. The guys are working hard, especially on how to play the slow bowlers. So after this tour when we go home, we’ll know what we need to work on, on the bowling and batting side, so that we come back to the sub-continent for the World Cup, we will be a step ahead. It’s good to play Bangladesh. We’ve not had a good start in this series; hopefully we’ll do better in the last two games.
On being troubled by Bangladeshi spinners
It’s only one guy who has troubled us on this tour --- Abdur Razzak. We’ve been practicing playing against left-arm spin. Hopefully we’ll get better at it.
On becoming the dangerous team that everyone takes seriously
We’re not far off. To be fair, Bangladesh have also improved their cricket a lot. Zimbabwe are not far off. Like Bangladesh who played matches regularly and slowly got better, we’ve been playing games regularly, we’re getting there. We’ve improved our performance over last year’s. Before coming to Bangladesh, we’ve beaten a couple of bigger sides (India and Sri Lanka), so we’re going in the right direction. I believe we will cause some upsets in the World Cup as well.
On how cricket is moving forward through the various domestic and economic problems in Zimbabwe
Strictly speaking of cricket, the introduction of the franchises is a move forward. We’ve been having more local cricket, more one-day international cricket which has helped improved the standard of cricket in Zimbabwe. We’ve been getting a lot of foreign coaches in the local leagues. I know we’re going in the right direction so hopefully we can keep improving, from the domestic levels to the international level.
With the franchises running cricket, hopefully the leagues will get stronger and stronger. We’re better than what we were two to three years ago. There are also all the foreign players coming to play here. So we can only improve.
On captaining a side that has little experience of sub-continental conditions
I’ve been here a number of times so I know what to expect. We’re trying to get used to the wickets here (in Bangladesh). We will have World Cup games in India as well.
On Brian Lara, and where Grant Flower and Heath Streak fit in
Lara is going to join us early next year as the batting consultant. Grant Flower is our batting coach now and Heath Streak is working on our bowlers.
On how far he sees Zimbabwe going at the World Cup
We will target getting into the second round. With the sort of players we have, I believe we can do it. We have a couple of games against the associate nations. The way we’ve been preparing, we can definitely make it past the first round.