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'We don't lack talent'

From losing his father at 12 and losing his mother when he was 17, to becoming the captain of Zimbabwe at 21, Taibu knows what hardship is all about.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2005 23:16 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

What is ailing Zimbabwe cricket at the moment?
If I am asked to point out three reasons, the lack of trust between the board and the players will be one. We have had problems in the past and the players feel that the board doesn't have faith in them. Since we have to work together, it's a give-and-take situation. Both sides feel strongly about certain things and either of us will have to take a backward step if things are to get better.

Then, we don't have the numbers, which means that we don't have a big enough pool of players to choose from. And thirdly, the youngsters coming into the side don't have enough experienced players to guide them. As result, the pressure on them increases with each failure. The presence of Andy Flower, Alistair Campbell or Henry Olonga would have reduced the pressure on them.

What gives you the hope that things will be better in the coming years?
Most of the players we have at the moment are in the age group of 18-22 and they don't lack talent or the willingness to work hard. In five years, they will be 23-27, which they say, is the time when you hit your prime. The youngsters coming through at that time will have enough players around to guide them.

Is it difficult to work with Heath Streak, considering that he is a former captain who is now your deputy?
Not quite. He is a class player and we know that we have to work together. He is like a father figure for all of us. He is always there to take the pressure off youngsters and anybody can approach him whenever he needs. Even I keep asking him questions whenever I feel like and he is always ready to help.

Do you see yourself as an inspiration to a new generation of Zimbabwean youngsters?
I am an inspiration for them. I think I have done alright so far as a player despite all the turmoil and hope to keep doing it so that more youngsters take to the game as we need the numbers. The more players I can draw to the game, the better for us, and I am aware of it.

Do the frequent calls from certain quarters to strip Zimbabwe of Test status hurt you?
Of course it does. But at the same time, we know that what others say is not in our hands. We can only concentrate on things, which are in our control. And people tend to forget that New Zealand went without winning a Test for close to 20 years.

We are being written off without even being given a proper chance. One has to remember that we need time, considering that the team lost so many senior players all of a sudden.

What has been the most important lesson for you in these years in international cricket?
Since I am a wicket-keeper, batsman and captain, I have learnt to differentiate between these roles. I treat them separately and don't let my batting come under pressure, just because the team isn't doing well. I realise that myself and 'Streaky' are players the team looks up to.

First Published: Sep 02, 2005 22:09 IST