Zimbabwe Cricket make changes

As former player coach returns to replace incumbent Rajput.

Tawanda Munthali

After a string of poor results, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have made a few changes to their technical team setup, replacing head coach Lalchand Rajput with former national team player Dave Houghton.

Houghton, who is no stranger in Zimbabwe cricket circles, takes over as the head coach for the men’s teams in all formats as he succeeds incumbent Lalchand Rajput who has been appointed as the new technical director.

The legendary batsman, who is Zimbabwe’s first Test captain, said it was an easy decision to return to the national team set-up.

“Zimbabwe is the country of my birth, it’s where I have played all my cricket and I would like nothing better than to see them get back to where they were some years ago. I have always been one to help Zimbabwe in any way I can,” said the 64 year old.

Houghton, who has a wealth of experience at international level and an extensive coaching pedigree, including a spell as Derbyshire’s head of cricket, firmly believes he can steadily improve the national side’s fortunes as he begins his tenure with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers 2022 that will be held in the country in July.

“I was back home for the last cricket season and was involved with one of the franchise sides [Mountaineers],” added Houghton.

“The cricket that was played was outstanding. The results of the national side haven’t reflected the fact that the cricket is actually better now than what it was in my time, certainly provincial and local cricket,” he said.

ZC Director of Cricket Hamilton Masakadza said the appointment of Houghton came at a time the national team was looking forward to improve on their on-field performances.

 “We are delighted to bring in Dave and we count ourselves fortunate and privileged to be able to appoint such a vastly experienced and highly respected Head Coach at a time we are looking forward to improve our on-field performances,” Masakadza said.

“With Lance Klusener having also bounced back as batting coach, we believe we now have a formidable technical team that can push for World Cup qualification and ensure our players put in consistently competitive performances. I would also like to thank Lalchand who has been in charge of the team for the past four years, an incredibly challenging period for our cricket. He will continue to be involved in our game as Technical Director and will provide invaluable support to the team,” he added.

Houghton will be assisted by former South Africa international Lance Klusener, who has already re-joined Zimbabwe’s support staff as batting coach after a stint as Afghanistan’s head coach.

“There is good experience, good local experience too,” he added.

“Stuart Matsikenyeri (assistant coach) helps out quite a bit, Njabulo Papa Ncube helps out quite a bit with the bowling and we have other coaches all offering input.

“There’s good local coaching and it’s good to have Lance and his help around. Between the two of us we can impart a little bit more from the experience side of things.”

Houghton hopes for better fortunes in the qualifiers this time around and hopes he will pay back cricket loving fans who come out in their numbers to rally behind the team.

“The last time they had qualifiers, for the 50-over World Cup, Zimbabwe just missed out by losing in their last game to the UAE on Duckworth-Lewis,” he said.

“The crowds were outstanding. The stadium was full and there were people in the streets wanting to get in. There’s no shortage of support and backing. All they want to see is their team doing well.”

Alongside Andy Flower, Houghton is widely regarded as the best batter Zimbabwe has produced as he played 22 Tests for his country, averaging 41.83 with the bat. His highest individual score of 266 came versus Sri Lanka in 1994-95. He also played 63 ODIs for Zimbabwe.

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