The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE Cricket coach Dave Houghton has made one demand to his charges ahead of the 2022–2023 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier — “beat them all”.
He does not expect the Chevrons to fail to qualify for a global cricket tournament.
The veteran coach was left disappointed when his side failed to maximise on home advantage to secure a place at the World Cup showpiece currently underway in India.
He now wants the team to atone for that disappointment by making the cut at the qualifiers, which begin in Namibia on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe are the only ICC full member state in the qualifiers.
They will compete for qualification with Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and the hosts.
“We are going there to win; win every game and win it properly,” said Houghton.
“And in a way, bully them, because we should be the senior side in this competition, and we must play that type of cricket.
“I want us to beat them; it’s as simple as that.”
Zimbabwe begin their campaign to secure one of the two spots for next year’s T20 World Cup to be co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States with a game against the hosts, Namibia, on Tuesday.
The Namibians edged the Chevrons 3-2 last month in a warm-up tour by Zimbabwe.
But Houghton is unfazed, as he insists his focus is on getting the job done in the qualifiers.
“The last Namibian tour has caused a lot of comments from people, our fans and from everyone else, and no one really understood the true value of that tour for us,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that two countries considered to be our biggest threats would be Namibia and Uganda, and we play them first and second, but we have to have our eye on every single team we play, whether it be Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and whoever.
“We have got to play our brand of cricket, bully the opposition and come away with good wins.”
Complacency could be the Chevrons’ biggest undoing, but with the manner in which they choked in the qualifiers for the ODI World Cup still fresh in their minds, they know that they would have to show their class in Namibia in the T20 version.
“I think that hurt us. It hurt us badly because we have played for 12, 14 months some incredibly good cricket. And throughout that World Cup qualifier, we played unbelievably good cricket,” he added.
“And I think the hardest thing now has been to sit back and watch this World Cup, and watch Netherlands on TV . . . and know that we beat them here with 10 overs to go by miles.
“So, that game that we lost to Scotland, we made a small mistake and it cost us, and we have suffered for it badly.
“I know it still hurts the guys now, and it certainly hurts me.
“We have to come out and play our brand of cricket and beat every team that is in front of us.”
Houghton believes new skipper Sikandar Raza, who was appointed T20 captain last week, will bring new leadership qualities to the team.
“I have never really played in a game where Raza has been captain. I just know him as a personality.
“I mean, obviously he is a big personality within our team and he has leadership qualities in that the players have huge respect for him.
“His leadership on the field — I should imagine — will be different from Craig’s.
“Craig (Irvine) is a more relaxed leader, quiet on the field and so on.
“And Raza is a little bit more outspoken and in your face as a leader.
“So, we are at a time as a team where we are growing as well. Maybe new leadership on the field will make a difference.”