Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak has been appointed the country’s head coach, succeeding Dav Whatmore who was sacked in June. Streak was preferred over former team-mate Andy Blignaut and South Africans Peter Kirsten and Justin Summons, who were all interviewed for the job last Wednesday.
Streak has been tasked with ensuring Zimbabwe qualify for the 2019 World Cup, and will be allowed to continue in his role as bowling coach for the Gujarat Lions in the IPL.
After the announcement, Streak said: “My promise is I will leave no stone unturned in terms of our endeavour and our quest to improve the team’s performances. I believe that we have the resources here in Zimbabwe to do just that and planning is obviously going to be a major factor.
“We do have a lack of cricket but I know Zimbabwe Cricket is addressing that issue at the moment. I feel that with the upcoming series [Tests against Sri Lanka and an ODI tri-series also featuring West Indies] we have some really good cricket coming up, so we can really work towards improving.”
Makhaya Ntini, who was interim head coach since Whatmore’s departure and oversaw Zimbabwe’s limited-overs series against India and the two Tests against New Zealand, is expected to stay on as bowling coach while Lance Klusener will continue as batting consultant.
Streak has previous experience as a head coach. He was in charge of the Bulawayo-based franchise Matabeleland Tuskers in the 2012-13 season, when they won the Logan Cup. Streak’s extensive experience in Zimbabwe also included a four-year stint as bowling coach between 2009 and 2013, under Alan Butcher. Streak was instrumental in readying Zimbabwe for their Test comeback in 2011 and nurtured some of their best bowling talent including Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis, and Chris Mpofu.
When Streak’s contract with Zimbabwe was not renewed, he spent two years as bowling coach of Bangladesh, before moving to the IPL. He has remained committed to cricket in Zimbabwe, set up an academy in Bulawayo and also spent time doing television commentary in the country.
Streak has less than three weeks to get ready for his first assignment: the two-Test series against Sri Lanka followed by the ODI tri-series which includes West Indies. Zimbabwe’s cricketers have been in training under Ntini’s watch throughout September in preparation for the series and have also played against Pakistan A.
Their practice was briefly interrupted when the players embarked on a strike in protest overnon-payment of match fees but they reached a resolution with ZC administrators. ZC have also finalised national contracts, although the list has not been made public.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent