The Sunday News
Newly appointed Zimbabwean director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza has opened up for the first time since retirement from international cricket about his new role.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ICC Under 19 World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa, Masakadza spoke in depth about the perennial issues surrounding the game.
Having been capped 313 times with 9543 International runs, the Zimbabwe Cricket boss arrived in South Africa on the eve of the young Chevrons opening match against Bangladesh. Raising spirits within the camp.
Speaking to this publication in an exclusive interview, the former Zimbabwe international spoke in depth on why Zimbabwe keeps losing players to England, New Zealand and other countries around the globe. Some of the players who represented Zimbabwe in the national junior age groups now playing cricket for other countries are the sons of the late Zimbabwe fast bowler and head coach Kevin Curran. His sons Tom and Sam are now playing for the Lions of England, Gary Balance is in England and Collins De Grandhomme is playing for New Zealand. The tall fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani retired from international cricket after representing Zimbabwe 25 times with 24 international wickets to his name to play in the United Kingdom for Northamptonshire County.
Correspondent Dumisani Mankunzini (DM) met Hamilton Masakadza (HM) spoke to Masakanda.
DM: Hie Hamilton, welcome to ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
HM: Hi Dumie, thank you for having me here.
DM:Congratulations on your new appointment as the director of cricket in Zimbabwe. How is it on the other side of your playing career?
HM: thanks Dumie, it’s always fun being around cricketers . I have just come down to have a look at how our boys are doing and to identify boys that can be used in the near future for the national team, so yah I am enjoying it.
DM: Many people in the cricketing world have always wanted former cricketers being involved in the game and you as a former player and now director of cricket, how has it been like?
HM: It’s obviously a lot different, you learn a lot of things straight away. In my first week in the office I was already learning new things. It’s tough moving from the field to the back room but it’s always nice to have someone who played like myself in the back room because I know and understand exactly what a player needs to produce the right results. From a player’s point of view I know exactly what players need to do better. Its always nice to have someone who has played as much as I have. I can help from that angle with that being said as well it’s a new role for me and I am learning how things work and how things are done. As a player you only have a fraction of what happens but if you are where I am now you see a lot of what happens and you actually have a lot more answers to the things I questioned when I played.
DM: Talking of the near future, what plans do you have for these boys after the World Cup?
HM: We have about three or four boys who are ready to join the senior national team and most of these players are already in our domestic set up. We have programmes whereby these boys will go to the national academy as well as the Zim A side. So we do have programmes lined up for them.
DM: We have seen most boys after the national age groups going out of the country to play for other countries, what will you do as Zimbabwe Cricket to keep these boys under Zimbabwe?
HM: That you can’t really control. You are always going to lose players, when you are still at school in Zimbabwe, every one is Zimbabwean and they have no choice but to play for Zimbabwe. Decisions made after that can’t really be opposed or challenged but what can be done is making sure we have enough quality players to graduate to the seniors even if some guys end up leaving.
DM: How do you deal with public comments, There are so many negative comments about you as a person, director of cricket and Zimbabwe cricket. How do you handle such comments?
HM: I can’t really control what people say. Not everyone will like you, so I just ignore all the negative comments and focus on the job at hand. I also try to be away from social media as much as I can. You must always learn to take the good and even some critics, you can learn from them. It becomes a problem if you try and chase every negative thing said about you or the organisation. It’s best to shy away from it especially on social media.
D M: How did you manage to bring your Under 19 players to South Africa with so many days to the actual World Cup to play warm up games, considering the economic situation in the country?
HM: I think from an organisational point of view, like I said this is a level before the senior national team and we treat it very important. We saw it very important to bring the boys down to South Africa to play the Quadrangular series with South Africa, New Zealand and India. We are all proud it was part of their preparations before the actual World Cup. If you look at other teams, they will be having boys with 20-30 international caps in the tournament. So it was very important for our boys to play those games. From that angle it was easy to convince the board to allow the boys to come down and play some games and get ready.
DM: After doing a research on this year’s Under 19 World Cup, Zimbabwe is the only team with experience in both the technical team and playing squad. You have three players playing their Third World Cup, three playing their second and the coaching staff has been there since the last three World Cups. Are we going to see more former players in the coaching roles?
HM: I think it’s more of the organisation and the vision they have going forward, we want to use a lot more cricketers and former cricketers. This is not the first time, these guys have been in involved in the last two World Cups and I think it’s good to have them. We are also preparing these coaches and players to join the franchise sides and national team set up as well.
DM: We have seen so many boys who came through the scholarship programmes including myself and you, any plans to revive the scholarship programmes?
HM: It’s going to be difficult but there are plans to bring the programmes back. The scholarship programme produced many players who went on to play for the national team. It only makes sense to revive it.
DM: Hamilton thank you so much for your time. I wish you all the best in your new role and I have no doubt that cricket will excel in Zimbabwe under you.
HM: Thank you so much Dumie keep well.