PAARL, South Africa: Coach Heath Streak knows all too well the challenges Zimbabwe cricket faces, but believes the surprise return of experienced players and the shedding of an underdog mentality has been behind the team’s more competitive recent performances.
Streak, a formidable all-rounder in his playing days, is preparing the side for the inaugural four-day Test against South Africa starting in Port Elizabeth on December 26.He has been leading the side since October, 2016 and in that time has engineered a return for the country’s top batsman Brendan Taylor and their primary seamer, Kyle Jarvis, who had previously committed their futures to County Cricket in England.
“It was not easy (to persuade them to return), everybody has seen the political and economic challenges Zimbabwe has,” Streak said.“But I suppose we can be a bit more excited now we have a change of president and things are looking a little bit more hopeful.
“For us as cricketers, we realise how unifying and important cricket is as a sport to our country. We have seen how multicultural and multiracial our team is, and that plays an important role in rebuilding the new Zimbabwe.
“We are really excited and want to make people back home proud of how we perform in this next Test.”Zimbabwe have gradually improved during Streak’s first year in charge, with their last Test a home draw against West Indies in which they batted for 144 overs in their second innings to save the game.
They also edged Sri Lanka 3-2 in an away One-day International (ODI) series in July that showed the potential of the side in the shorter formats.“It’s well documented how little Test cricket we have played, but I think for us it is less about the type of cricket and more about just playing at international level,” the 43-year-old said.