By Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
29th October 2017
FORMER Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, David Coltart has praised the Tavengwa Mukuhlani led Zimbabwe Cricket board for doing a superb job of turning around the fortunes of the sport in the country.
Coltart, a personal friend of former ZC chairman, Wilson Manase said he was sceptical of Mukuhlani when the Bulawayo-based pharmacist was elected in August 2015 but he has been proven wrong so far. Coltart was speaking during a dinner organised for the national cricket team at the Old Mutual Heath Streak Academy last Thursday.
“We need to pay tribute this evening to the new chairman of the board of Zimbabwe Cricket, who has done a magnificent job which I have to confess when he first took over I was sceptical of him and I am pleased, I am delighted to have been proved wrong. He has made, with his colleagues on the board, the right decisions and we are now seeing the fruit of that before our very own eyes,’’ Coltart said.
One of the things Coltart feels the ZC did right was to appoint former national team captain, Tatenda Taibu as the convener of the selection panel.
During his last few days in office as minister, Coltart fought hard without success to ensure that the national selection panel was led by someone with Test cricket experience. Coltart said he has belief in Taibu, that he will be fair and he has the ability to identify talented players.
“I argued that we needed someone with international cricket experience as convener of selectors, the one thing I knew is that it took an understanding of Test cricket to identify people who didn’t just have the technical ability but the mental strength and you needed someone who had been there before so I am delighted that the chairman and the board appointed Tatenda and I think he has done a magnificent job in selecting based on merit, we are seeing it on the field,’’ Coltart said.
Turning to the players, Coltart said he has always had belief in their talent and all they needed was an administrative structure and a sense of permanence, sense of order and that of fairness to achieve their full potential.
“We are so delighted as a nation to see the improvements just in the last few months, my heart was swelling with pride when I saw you guys in Sri Lanka, it’s just fantastic,’’ Coltart said.
He went on to give his thoughts on how the coach Heath Streak and his players should approach the second Test against West Indies which gets underway at Queens Sports Club this morning.
“From my very inexperienced perspective, can I just give a few tips to the coach and the players for the game that’s coming up. When there are any opposition players anywhere certainly before you get to 50, please I don’t want to see any air between the ball and ground after its left the bat for quite a considerably period,’’ he said.
Former captain, Brendan Taylor was run out for 73 in the second innings of the first Test and Coltart said while the cricketer might have his first name beginning with the same letter as that of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, he was not the quickest when it comes to running in between the wickets.
“Please just be a bit conservative with those reverse sweeps as well, we delight in them when they come off but when they don’t come off. To BT in particular, your first name shares the same letter as the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt but unfortunately this despite your incredible talent you are not as fast as him wicket to wicket,’’ he said, amid laughter from the crowd.
Old Mutual Heath Streak Academy chief executive officer and executive director, Joseph Rego said the event was meant to celebrate the recent spate of victories as well as good performances of the Zimbabwe national cricket team and to wish them well in the forthcoming International Cricket Council World Cup Qualifier to be held in the country in March next year.
“Congratulations Tavengwa Mukuhlani, chairman and Faisal Hasnain, managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket for sparing no efforts in obtaining the rights from ICC to host such a prestigious event in Zimbabwe,’’ Rego said.
Streak, his players, ZC board member Vumindaba Moyo as well as staff attended the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Mukuhlani yesterday briefed the ZC board on the ICC meetings outcomes which had some positives conclusions for Zimbabwe. The ZC board meeting took place at Queens Sports Club. The ICC board gatherings, held in New Zealand saw Zimbabwe being awarded the rights to host next year’s World Cup Qualifier. On top of that, the country will also host an ICC board meeting to be staged in Victoria Falls in April next year.