During the 1st session of 4th day of the 2nd Test between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, David Houghton the Zimbabwe manager and ex-captain took some time out to answer a few questions on IRC. Suhael Ahmed handled the interview whilst Travis Basevi was the moderator.

travis: [Samir] In 1983, when Zimbabwe beat Aus in the World Cup, maturity looked just around the corner for the team, now it seems its finally here by beating Pak in Pak, what more needs to be done for them to become contenders? Also, nice to see Dave, have good memories of him from that world cup

DH: 3 years or so the team has matured and is now quite experienced and hence, we are starting to reap the benefit. DH: 1983 was a long time ago and prior to us having test status. Since obtaining test status in 1992 we had a team that was very young and not as good as the 1983 side. In the last

travis: [bakait] what has been the high point of Zim's short existance as a cricket power? The win over Aus in 83WC? The test win over India in Zim? The win over Pak in Test1?

DH: I think the answer to that is, being a young int'l side every victory has its own significane. Our next objective is to try and win a test series.

travis: [SherShah] Zimbabwe has achieved some impressive results in this past season. What do you think is the main reason bheind these achievements?

DH: I think you should start by mentioning the brilliance of the coach Seriously, I think that it is the combination of the experience we have had as a team over the last few years and the introduction of one or two players of high class in particular Goodwin and Johnson on the batting side and Olonga and Mbangwa on the bowling.

travis: [krish-] Zimbabwe seems to do pretty decently vs Pak. always. What would you attribute this to?

DH: We always seem to play against Pakistan, we've played half our tests against them. It would be nice if we could have the opportunity to play more against some of the other sides, in particular, we have yet to play Aus and WI.

travis: [SherShah] What was your most memorable innings and why?

DH: In ODI, the 142 I got against NZ in 1987 World Cup and thats easy to remember because its the only ODI hundred I got. In tests, the 266 v SRL, will always be my most memorable innings during this knock I batted for nearly two days and dont remember ever playing and missing. It should be remembered that whenever I scored runs we never won!, so may be some of my best innings were zeros!

travis: [Fuzzy] Murry Goodwin seems to be a top class player, you comments on murray??

DH: Murray came back to us already established in the first class game having played for 3 years for WA. Our Zimbabwean new comers come into test cricket without a FC background because we dont have a FC competition, hence, their first couple of years in test cricket is taken up getting FC experience. Fortunately the arrival of Murray coincided with my retirement so we were able to replace one experienced player with another.

travis: as a followup: is it a priority in Zimbabwe to establish a competitive FC competition? A few years ago, you had 4 equal strength teams, now you've gone back to the unbalanced 2 traditional teams. Surely this was a backward step?

DH: As with many third world countries the population tends to drift to the main cities and this is what has happened at home. I am trying to push players back to the smaller provinces in an effort to rekindle cricket at that level with a view to restablishing four provincial sides so that we can have a meaningful FC competition. This is not an easy exercise as the young players of today are more interested in looking after themselves than doing the right thing in terms of our National cricket.

travis: [Rohan] Dave, there's often criticism of England sides for including foreign born, or foreign-raised players, rather than home-grown talent.. We've seen Zimbabwe recently include both Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson, who both played their cricket outside Zimbabwe... what is the feeling on this back home ? Is there any sort fo reaction parallelling that we sometimes see aimed at England ?

DH: My feelings are that anyone who was born in Zimbabwe and wishes to live in that country should be allowed to do so. We have no intention of offering any incentive foe anyone to come and play for us. If they wish to return to the country of their birth and they happen to play cricket, all well and good. It should be noted that both the players mentioned started on C grade salaries the same as any junior player making his debut for Zimbabwe.

travis: [feebee] (from Andy Pycroft, Zim selector in Harare) I believe that Paul Strang is injured. How did he get injured, how bad is it and will he be able to play in the next test if he is picked?

DH: Paul injured his finger at fielding practice but should be fine for the next test. Whether we use him or not will depend on the wicket at Faisalabad.

travis: [krish-] Zimbabwe from the very beginning has been a brilliant fielding side. Any reason in particular?

DH: We practice a lot. From an early age most Zimbabweans play a lot of ball sports and this seems to help with hand and eye coordination.

travis: [bakait] Olonga got the better of Tendulkar in the early Sharjah game, but then got slaughtered in the next game. As his coach/manager, what advice did you give him then?

DH: When somebody plays as well as that there is not much we can do. Take heart from the fact that he does to every bowler in the world on his day.

travis: [Cybiades] Hello Dave...congrats on the win at Peshawar... What do you think of Gavin and Craig's poor run of form lately?

DH: The wickets we are playing on are not the easiest for the batsmen especially against two of the worlds best bowlers. I am not sure replacing them with anyone else will make any difference. I try to see the team result as a whole rather than criticise players individually. It is my job to try and encourage these two in particular to make better contributions in the remaining innings of this tour and hopefully a useful 40 or 50 in the right place may be a match winning or saving contribution.

travis: [feebee] (from Dave Ellman-Brown - CEO of ZCU) Is the fog that is affecting play a normal thing in Lahore? Is it likely to play more of a part in this test match?

DH: It is the same that cost us two days in a test we played here in 1993. However, it cleared quite quickly this morning and we were able to get a start at 10:45. However, it comes back in the afternoon which means not much play is possible after tea.

travis: [kamalp] why is the large black pop in Zimbabwe so under-represented in the team?

DH: Our black population only started playing cricket in 1980. We have no history of them playing before that therefore, we are doing very well to have as many coming through as we have at the moment. My belief on cricket is that there is a culture that needs to be taught alongside the technique of the game, How long does it take to teach a culture? I always thought that it would be the second generation of Zimbabweans who would really come through, I think I am being proved right. Over the next 10 years or so you will see a major shift towards an all black side and without doubt for Zim to continue to succeed at this level thats an absolute must.

DH: Last question please for me I have to go to the team as its lunch here

travis: as a followup: you certainly seem to be having more success with black players than South Africa. Any particularly reason?

DH: Tough question, they have a lot more money and resources for their development programmes Perhaps, we have been able to offer more opportunities at an earlier stage purely because of out limited number of cricket players nationwide and that has given them the necessary exposure and experience. Thank you for the q's.

travis: and thank you David Houghton. And good luck in achieving your aim of a first Test series win

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Date-stamped : 13 Dec1998 - 10:34