Asian cricketdances to Zimbabwean beat


Harare – Grant Flower has turned Pakistan into a run-making machine, transforming a team that had a fragile batting line-up that was blown away for just 49 in a sorry innings in a Test whitewash in South Africa, and showing why Zimbabwean coaches have become hot property in the Asian cricket hotbed.

With Heath Streak helping Bangladesh complete a 3-0 Test whitewash of Zimbabwe, in a contest that the coach likened himself to Frank Lampard playing for Manchester City against Chelsea, the Zimbabwean influence, in Asian cricket, is being felt all over the sub-continent.

India’s confirmation that Duncan Fletcher will be their head coach, at the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March, means there will be a huge Zimbabwean technical influence, among the Asia’s three big cricket nations Down Under.

With four of the 14 teams in Australia and New Zealand set to have Zimbabwean coaches in their coaching staff, it means that the Southern African country will have the biggest technical influence, at the 2015 ICC Cricket World, which is quite a remarkable feat for a country of just 13 million where the game is not even the national sport.

India’s struggles in England, in the Test series this year, might have pushed Fletcher into the background, and cost the job of another Zimbabwean, fielding coach Trevor Penney, with Ravi Shastri coming in as team director for the Asian powerhouse, but the Zimbabwean will lead the team Down Under.

But it is Grant Flower, the younger brother of former England coach Andy, who is making waves on the Asian sub-continent.

Pakistan have just completed a 2-0 Test whitewash of Australia and beaten New Zealand 1-0 in their two-Test match duel and, had they won the drawn fourth Test against the Black Caps, it would have been the first time, since 1990, that they had put together a four-Test winning sequence.

The win in the first Test against New Zealand also gave Misbah-ul-Haq the 15th Test win as skipper of Pakistan, making him the most successful leader of the Pakistan team.

Pakistan’s revival has been built on a productive batting machine, led by veteran Younis Khan, who has been in an incredible touch, scoring 106 and an unbeaten 103 in the win against Australia in Abu Dhabi, scoring 213 against the same opponents and then an unbeaten 100 against New Zealand before getting 72 in the drawn second Test.

 Khan believes Flower has played a huge part in transforming them into a batting machine where the batsmen have scored 13 centuries in the Test battles against Australia and New Zealand.

“I am not comfortable that no one has mentioned the contribution of Grant Flower in our success,” Younus told the Geo Super TV channel, after his phenomenal run.

“It would be unfair not to mention his role.

“What I like the most is when I’m at the nets and working on my batting, he will not tell me to change my technique. He very well knows that I, having played so many crickets, all he needs to do is motivate me to work on my flaws.

“Discussions with him have also been of huge help for me and he speaks wholeheartedly. I’m sure everyone would agree he has played a huge role in everyone’s batting.”

And he is not the only one who has seen Flower’s influence.

Young opener, Ahmed Shehzad, believes that his game has also been improved by Flower’s influence.

“I think Grant Flower and trainer Grant Ludon have worked very hard with us and on raising our bar and at the same time the players themselves were fed up with the streak of losing matches,” Shehzad said.

Streak is part of the Bangladesh coaching staff that has helped the Tigers turn around a woeful year by crushing Zimbabwe 3-0 in a Test whitewash and then taking a 2-0 lead in the first two matches of the five ODI contests.

The Tigers’ attack has been dominated by the spinners, something that has always been the case, and Steak was hired to help transform the pacers.

One of the pacers, Mashrafe Mortaza, the Tigers ODI skipper, came to the party in the second ODI by taking three key Zimbabwe wickets and Streak believes that the pace men have been doing a good job since the series opened.

“In the first Test Shahadat’s [Hossain] wickets were really important. Yes, the spinners did the job on that wicket, but Shahadat got [Vusimuzi] Sibanda and [Hamilton] Masakadza, which were key wickets,” he told the Daily Star of Bangladesh.

“Shafiul [Hossain] and Rubel [Hossain] were fantastic as well. I have done some good work with both of them and they are starting to show some good signs.

“If you look at their career strike rates and what they did in this series, they performed much better and in much tougher bowling conditions,” said Streak.  

December 2014
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