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NEW Zimbabwe Cricket coach Dav Whatmore wants the national team to be competitive in the shortest possible time after he was unveiled yesterday to lead the side at next year’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

The Australian takes over the reins from Stephen Mangongo, who was sacked recently following a disastrous tour in Bangladesh. Whatmore said he was excited to take up the job with Zimbabwe Cricket and has set his sights on turning around the team’s fortunes at the World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals.

Zimbabwe performed poorly at the last event where they were eliminated in the first round after winning only two matches against Associate nations Canada and Kenya and losing four other games to full member sides.

This time they are in Group B alongside defending champions India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies and Associate nations United Arab Emirates and Ireland.

“This next tournament is going to be a very important one and, as the chairman (Wilson Manase) said, this is an ongoing effort to try and get this team ger and ger as the months and years come and go,” said Whatmore.

“But if you are asking for target, it’s very difficult to give you a very definitive one but we can say that we are going to be as competitive as possible and the first ‘target’ will be to make that Super Eight, which would mean we need to win three games. So that’s the immediate target and we will have to try and achieve that. It’s very important that the team performs.”

And with just over a month before the World Cup tournament — Whatmore — who is also an aisor to Asia Cricket, hopes to use his vast experience to get the team in the best condition.

He has had success in his coaching career winning the 1996 World Cup with Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup with Pakistan in 2012 and then leading Bangladesh to a Super Eight finish at the 2007 World Cup.

Whatmore agreed to a short-term pact with ZC to assist the side up to the World Cup in March with the view of extending his stay afterwards. Former Zimbabwe international Douglas Hondo will double up as assistant and bowling coach.

Whatmore will oversee the batting department and is expected to conduct his first training session on Friday.

The 60-year-old coach said he has faith in Zimbabwe players after seeing their potential on his last tour here while coaching Pakistan in 2013.

“I know these guys, I know the team and I have seen them play just recently against Pakistan here when they beat Pakistan in a Test match. They beat us and in the One Day competition as well, the first game went to Zimbabwe. The T20 fair enough they lost both games, but they were competitive in different conditions.

“So the potential is there and we need to understand and try really hard to get the right boys in the right place against the opposition and the conditions that we face. That will be a challenge but if we get that right we have a real chance of being as competitive as possible,” said Whatmore.

“Essentially what we all require is a genuine effort, a duty of care to your employer to ensure that everything you do you, do to the best of your ability. And with the right environment we will try hard to create a real positive and healthy environment, then we have a good chance of getting the performance.

“So it’s a collective effort. It’s the players who have to do all the hard work on the field . . . but it also involves a number of other jig-saw puzzle pieces that have to fit — selection, coaching, support staff, Zimbabwe Cricket administration. All these things make a difference at the end of the day out there.

“Most people who sit on the terraces just see the action, but there is a lot more that goes into it. We will try really hard to make those pieces fit in order to achieve a common goal, that is, to lift the performance of the Zimbabwe national team.”

Whatmore is also a member of the team selection panel which includes his assistant Hondo, captain Elton Chigumbura and long-serving administrator Babu Meman.

Givemore Makoni is the convener of the selectors.

ZC chairman Wilson Manase described Whatmore as “a bunch of experience” and promised to avail the necessary support to help the team achieve their goals.

Manase confirmed that former captain Alistair Campbell will return to ZC administration structures in January as cricket managing director.

Source : The Herald