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Sporting with Big Brother in Africa

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2007 01:10 IST
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Being the coach of a struggling nation, in every sense of the word, cannot be easy. Kevin Curran is in that position in Zimbabwe, but he does not seem to hate it.

A key member of the wonder pack of the 1983 World Cup, where the debutants beat Australia in their first match, is willing to fight it out.

The former all-rounder, who had successful county stints with Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, says though his job is difficult, he was up to it.

“We have lost close to 30 players, including a number of seniors, for several reasons and that can put a big dent on your confidence and performance. I still think we have the talent to come back,” he said ahead of the match against Ireland.

The man who rattled India with three wickets in what is remembered as the Kapil Dev match at Turnbridge Wells is patient. He says everything takes time.

“The guys we have can do it, but not overnight. Andy Flower was a hugely successful player but it took him eight to 10 years to reach that position. It's not like one-day cricket. Things come with experience.”

With a representative of the Zimbabwe Cricket Association monitoring what kind of a conversation was on, the 48-year-old had to be careful of what he was saying when asked whether he had foreseen such a situation after his country had shown enough promise to develop as a cricketing nation.

“Different kinds of things happen. I can't really comment on incidents, which are not in my control. I can only get along with my job. We could surely have done better but there is no reason to lose hope. We are probably the youngest side today and you can't expect us to beat everybody.”

Living in a country riddled with political, economic, social and all kinds of problems - the value of the local currency shooting down to around 30,000 from 55 against a US dollar in less than two years being just an example - Curran said he doesn't regret going back to his country instead of opting for a safer life in England, like many of his contemporaries did.

“The sports culture we have over there is still quite good. I made this choice keeping in mind the options my three sons will get. I don't think they would get to play at least three school cricket matches a week anywhere else in the world. And our education system is second to none. I learned my game over there and there is no reason to think others will not, it if they live in Zimbabwe.”

Curran vividly remembers the days of 1983 and treasures them. “Beating Australia who had Allan Border, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson and Rodney Marsh is the fondest of my cricketing memories.

“We could also have beaten India, but being so young I panicked in the end,” said the man who made 73 in that game where his team fell short by 31 runs chasing India's 266.