NEWLY-APPOINTED Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) team coach Davenell “Dav” Whatmore says he will put his focus on establishing the best possible environment around the team as he targets a place in the Super Eight stage at the upcoming Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The 60-year-old former Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh coach was yesterday formally unveiled as the new ZC coach replacing Stephen Mangongo, who was sacked two weeks ago.
Whatmore’s appointment was a foregone conclusion since he arrived in the country on Sunday, but the ZC held back the official announcement until yesterday.
Whatmore, whose deal with ZC was brokered by Dubai-based agency, Arena Sports, will take charge of the national cricket team at the 2015 World Cup with a view to sign a long-term deal after the global showpiece.
The well-travelled coach, who joins the Zimbabwe set-up with morale at an all-time low after a disastrous tour of Bangladesh, said he would work hard to turn around the team’s fortunes starting at the upcoming World Cup.
Zimbabwe will battle it out in Pool B alongside neighbours South Africa, defending champions India, West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and UAE and will need to win at least three matches to qualify for the quarter-finals (Super Eight).
“It’s very important that the team performs. I agree with a lot of people who understand that the scoreline during recent tour to Bangladesh was not as it should have been,” Whatmore said at a press conference in the capital yesterday.
“I know that the boys you have already are capable of more. It wasn’t to be in that series, but conditions change.
“It’s very difficult to give a definitive target, but we can say we can be as competitive as possible and our first target will be to reach the Super Eight which would mean we need to win three games. That’s our immediate target and we will work very hard to achieve that,” Whatmore said.
The Sri Lanka-born coach, who recently toured Zimbabwe with the Pakistan team before covering the recent Bangladesh tour as a commentator, said his knowledge of the team would serve him well in his new role.
“I’m very pleased to be here. I’ve come here for the last 10 years. I have a full appreciation of the country.
“I know the team and I’ve seen them play in other conditions. I have seen them beating Pakistan here, so the potential is there.
“Essentially, what we all require is a genuine effort, a duty of care to the employer to ensure that everything you do is to the best of your ability.
“And with the right environment that we will try very hard to create, then you’ve got a good chance of getting the perfomance. It’s a collective effort.
“There are challenges with every position. Coaching is what I do and I enjoy doing it. That’s why I am here,” Whatmore, who has had success with all three international teams he had previously coached, said.
He will head the coaching department which includes former national team bowler Douglas Hondo as the bowling coach while ZC will name a batting coach to assist Whatmore, soon.
Former Zimbabwe captain and coach Dave Houghton has been linked with the batting coach post, but he has reportedly ruled himself out due to his commitments to English county side Middlesex.
ZC board chairman Wilson Manase said having made the decision to headhunt for Mangongo’s replacement, they settled for Whatmore because of his strong cricketing background and coaching credentials.
“Whatmore needs no introduction to those who follow cricket. He has a wealth of experience at the highest level in coaching . . . he comes with a passion to make our game great. It’s left to our players to respond to his call in order to increase food on their table,” he said.
“Initially we have agreed with Dav to assist us up to the World Cup, but he is open to as he has told us that he is willing to have another contract for the longer term contract after the World Cup which is our wish.
He will assist us after the World Cup in high perfomance training for players through various programmes through the Dav Whatmore Cricket Academy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manase clarified Mangongo’s new role, saying contrary to reports that he was the Under-19 coach, he had been redeployed to the lower levels of the system.
“He will not be the coach of the Under-19s, but will assist with talent identification up to that age group,” Manase said.