CANBERRA — Zimbabwe believe the guile of coach Dav Whatmore can help them spring a cricket World Cup upset by beating the West Indies, senior batsman Hamilton Masakadza said yesterday.
The match starts at 0530hrs.
Zimbabwe head into today’s pivotal Pool B match at Canberra’s Manuka Oval level on points with the unpredictable Caribbean cricketers and responding well to the much-travelled Whatmore’s words.
Whatmore, who guided Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup title and has also been in charge of Bangladesh and Pakistan, was only appointed to the Zimbabwe job six weeks before the World Cup.
However, Masakadza said he had made an immediate mark upon the team.
“The coach has had a very big impact for us. He’s changed a couple of things and he’s really got the guys going in a certain direction, and that’s been working really well for us,” Masakadza said.
“I think the atmosphere within the team has been really good now. The guys are really working hard and the guys are very focused.
“The guys are really looking forward to this World Cup, and I think even beyond this World Cup, we’re expecting a lot of good things to happen, because we’ve had a few problems in the past with administration and things like that,” he added.
“I think that’s also getting better. Guys are a little bit more focused on the actual cricket and giving the cricket side a little bit more of what they need.
“I think looking forward and going ahead, I think things are looking up.”
Masakadza, who top-scored with 80 in Zimbabwe’s creditable first-up loss to South Africa before his side defeated the United Arab Emirates, said Whatmore had complied plenty of information for the team ahead of the West Indies game.
“The coach got quite a bit of information yesterday (Sunday) when we got here, so we basically have a really good idea what it’s going to be like out there,” the batsman said.
“I think it’s going to be really important to start off well, both with our batting and our bowling, because I think their top order is very dangerous.
“We mustn’t let them get away from us too quickly, and similarly, the batting, Pakistan were four down early (against the West Indies on Saturday), and you can’t really recover from a position like that.
“We just have to make sure that we start early, both with bat and with ball.”
Masakadza, playing at his first World Cup, said Zimbabwe would have the plans to deal with the West Indies and their potentially destructive opener Chris Gayle.
“They’ve had a bit of a mixed tournament so far, so we just come along with our plans, planning for them to be on top of their game and being able to deal with them being on top of their game,” he said.
“Chris Gayle is a good player. We all know that. He hasn’t really got runs so far.
“But we have our plans against him and have our plans against all the different batters, and hopefully we fire up front and get a few wickets early.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder says he has faith explosive opener Gayle will break his run of low scores against Zimbabwe today.
“Well, every time I see Chris Gayle, I expect to see a positive Chris Gayle,” Holder said. “Although he hasn’t been getting runs, we still have a lot of confidence in him. I just hope that he can come tomorrow and just get us in and just take it as deep as possible for us.
“Any team would despise having Chris Gayle going guns blazing at the top. Obviously he hasn’t yet, but we still have full confidence in him.
“And it’s very good to see that he still hasn’t fired and yet we’re still getting 300 runs. I guess when his contribution comes, we’ll get somewhere close to 400 hopefully.”
Fast bowler Holder at 23 has been made skipper of a notoriously fractious West Indies team and replaced Dwayne Bravo, who was captain when the team sensationally abandoned their tour of India last October over a contractual dispute with the WICB.
Former West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said that Holder, who has played just 28 one-day internationals, was not ready to captain the one-day side and that the captaincy was too much for him at this stage of his career.
But uppermost in Holder’s thoughts is beating Zimbabwe today.
“I’m very confident going forward into this game. I think what is important is that we keep this momentum that we have going,” he said.
“I think we still have room for improvement. Obviously we can cut a few of our boundary balls when we bowl.
“I think if we can get a few more contributions going deeper into the innings in terms of the top order, I think we can get close to 350 plus, and I think that is not beyond us because of our firepower in the middle and the end.
“I think we still have to improve, too, in our fielding. I think we could be a lot sharper in the field and give a better account of ourselves.”