He was the face of Zimbabwe bowling attack for nearly a decade. On many occasions, he single-handedly won matches for Zimbabwe, thus, establishing them as one of the toughest competitors in the world of cricket. After retirement, Heath Streak, the former Zimbabwe captain has been involved in coaching. In a recent chat with the CricketSoccer.com, Streak opened up about his feeling regarding Zimbabwe cricket and his journey in coaching so far.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): How disappointing a fact is this that Zimbabwe couldn’t even qualify for the 2019 cricket world cup?
Heath Streak (HS): We had a good lead-up to the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe but sadly lost our last game against the UAE, via the Duckworth-Lewis method, which proved crucial. This is the first time that there have only been 10 teams to qualify for the Cricket World Cup. The ICC has reduced the number of teams competing at the tournament, which is always tough for nations like us. But at the same time, looking at the past record and the number of great matches that we were a part of, it was a shock for us not to qualify for the World Cup. It’s hard, very hard.
CS: And your contract as the coach of the team was terminated just after you guys failed to qualify for the tournament. Your thoughts.
HS: It was a shock when I was told by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) that my coaching team and I must resign, failing which we would be fired. It was massively disappointing that we missed out on qualifying for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. But, how could the officials deny the fact that we almost doubled our win ratio and won our first away ODI series in 17 years after we took the charge. In the last two years, players like Solomon Mire, Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis back from Australia and England respectively was also a good achievement for the future of the game in Zimbabwe.
CS: Was there any official clarification why they sacked you from the post?
HS: Not really. Unfortunately, the Zimbabwe Cricket board felt that we weren’t good enough as a management group. I didn’t resign because I believe it would have been degrading to our national players and my technical team. As a result, I was dismissed with immediate effect. For me, the most disappointing thing is how we have been treated. We didn’t get a chance to have a hearing and only received an e-mail confirming that we have been terminated. Still, I feel I have a lot to offer to Zimbabwe cricket
CS: But do you think Zimbabwe cricket is heading towards the right direction?
HS: Look, we have no lack of ability or talent and we’ve shown that in periods, we’ve been able to compete with the rest of the world. Just that we don’t play as much cricket as the big teams at the elite level. We need to play a lot more cricket. Only then we can regain our lost glory. During my time, when we were successful, we were probably playing a lot more cricket than our current national team. Players like Brendon Taylor, Carl Jarvis and Solomon Mire have returned. From my perspective, it’s been very good to have those guys back. It’s also showed a lot of young people that there’s a future for people here in Zimbabwe.
CS: How would you assess yourself as a coach? How is the experience so far?
HS: It has been a good experience so far. Coaching is something you have to have a passion for and you must be open-minded and willing to learn. You have to learn the art of being a good coach and there is a lot that goes into it. It’s not just about cricket skills and knowledge. You are dealing with people and different personalities. You have to be able to operate in that environment and make the team you work with a click and players complement each other. Every day, I learn something new as a coach.
CS: What could be your next station as a coach?
HS: I haven’t decided yet. I have been working with the Kolkata Knight Riders team in Indian Premier League and that too is a very good and learning experience for me. To coach some of the big teams in world cricket are always massive and of course, that’s something I’ll look to do in the future.
CS: What’s your take on the fact that some of the minnows in the cricketing world are making it to the big stage? As, for example, Afghanistan is playing their first ever test match against India…
HS: It’s a very good and healthy sign. It will only increase the intensity in the game of cricket. But at the same time, teams like Afghanistan should have a proper vision of how to approach the big league. There shouldn’t be any fantasy. Nobody will remember the hard work that the teams put in to reach the big league. You have to back your strength and learn from the mistakes. Only then you can survive.