NATIONAL cricket team coach Andy Waller said the recent impasse between Zimbabwe Cricket and the players had affected the morale of the players, but said it was not a factor in their 108-run defeat in the third ODI on Saturday, which saw them surrender the three match series 2-1.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Waller’s charges boycotted training on Friday morning over unpaid salaries, a day before the ODI series decider at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
“We talked about it and we obviously went out there and gave a 100%,” Waller said.
“But unfortunately the situation, and the way it all went about yesterday, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s all going to be in the back of your head. And without making excuses, because Pakistan played damn good cricket, it’s very hard to say to the guys, ‘Please, let’s just try and focus today, concentrate on cricket and forget about what’s happened’. Unfortunately, it’s always going to be there. You need to be incredibly mentally strong to push it aside, which I am not sure if it can be done.”
Having beaten Pakistan for the first time in 15 years in the first ODI last Tuesday, expectations were high for Zimbabwe to pull off their first series win over a major Test-playing nation since 2001.
After Taylor won the toss and elected to bowl, his bowlers restricted Pakistan to a gettable 260, Waller said he felt his charges had given themselves a chance to win the match and ultimately the series.
However, a top-order collapse, which saw them lose four wickets for 21 runs, made it difficult to chase the target of 261.
“When I spoke to the guys at the break, I said to them, we probably could have chased down 260,” Waller said.
“So, we believed that we could do it. Unfortunately, we went there and some of our senior players in the top order didn’t play the shots that should have been played and that was the problem, I think.”
Shifting his focus to the upcoming two-match Test series which gets underway at Harare Sports Club tomorrow, Waller said he was confident his charges had the self-belief to be competitive in the game’s longer format.
“I think the big thing is the self-belief. I think we had a poor series and didn’t have the self-belief I would be very worried about this Test series. I think the guys know that they can go out there and score runs against the Pakistanis if we play clever cricket and simple cricket. I think we can go out there and really compete in the Test series.
Waller however expressed his concerns about the team’s bowling department which has been severely weakened by the departures of seamer Kyle Jarvis and leg spinner Graeme Creamer.
“The main concern I have at the moment will be on the bowling side; how we are going to take 20 wickets.
“I’m not saying our bowlers are not good but having lost someone like Jarvis who can bowl with a bit of pace and swing the ball there was always a chance of getting wickets.
“Losing someone like (Graeme) Creamer who is a quality leg spin bowler is one of my main concerns at the moment, but I still believe that our bowlers can go out there and get the job done.”