CHENNAI: The last fortnight has given Zimbabwe something to cheer about as they defeated Bangladesh in both T20 and ODI series at home. What was more heartening was to see the team notching up strong shows despite the absence of senior players like skipper Craig Ervine, all-rounder Sean Williams and pacers Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara. Barring Williams who missed due to personal reasons, others were out injured.
Now they have an even stronger challenge at hand, with India arriving to take on the African nation in a three-match ODI series. Former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener, Zimbabwe’s batting coach, spoke to TOI on the upcoming series, the areas he wants his side to improve upon and more.
What are your expectations from the India-Zimbabwe series?
It’s a series we all are looking forward to. It will be a great learning curve for a team like Zimbabwe to play against a top side like India. It’s a good challenge for us and an opportunity for our players to learn and grow. However, we want to play good cricket and we are asking India to bring their A game as well. If they do that, they may be too strong for us but if we play well and put them under pressure, then ODI cricket is a funny game and anything can happen.
Where do you feel the Zimbabwean batting unit can improve in the coming months?
I think we would like to be more consistent from the batting point of view. Yes, we won the series against Bangladesh but we didn’t necessarily get off to good starts. That for us is a concern and we are going to need to pay attention to that before the India series. We have been lucky that (Sikandar) Raza and a few others have played well but our expectation from our batting unit is that everyone should be performing.
Zimbabwe batting coach, Lance Klusener (L), seen with head coach and former skipper Dave Houghton, feels the batting needs to be more consistent to challenge India in the three-match ODI series. (AFP Photo)
With this series part of the ODI WC Super League, do you see it as extra motivation for your 2023 ODI World Cup qualification chances?
I don’t think it’s extra motivation. It’s a chance for the players to represent their country. That in itself is motivation enough to go out there and deliver the best.
Hardik Pandya has made a good return to international cricket. What’s your take on his presence to this Indian side?
A fast-bowling all-rounder like Hardik Pandya adds glue to any white-ball side or to any cricket team. It’s so good to have him back and is getting into the form we are accustomed to. The Indian team looks a different side when Hardik Pandya is in full flow.
Do you reckon the upcoming Cricket South Africa (CSA) T20 league, where you are head coach of the Durban franchise, will create a pool of talent like IPL has in India?
IPL has been a great environment as it has given the opportunity for younger players to rub shoulders with international players and coaches from across the world. Much like IPL that has discovered so many new talents — South Africa too will be able to create new talent with the CSA T20 League.
With so many T20 leagues mushrooming around the world, do you see ICC having a tough time putting together the FTP (Future Tours Program) schedule in the coming years?
T20 cricket is rocketing, isn’t it? With a lot of T20 leagues coming up, I definitely do see FTPs and especially 50-over cricket coming under pressure. These T20 competitions are bringing in new talent and money which is good for everybody. I am glad it’s not my problem to sort that out but I do foresee some thought going into FTPs in the future.