HAVING been elevated to a substantive role last week, Zimbabwe national senior cricket team coach Lalchand Rajput has vowed to hit the ground running in his bid to restore the country’s lost glory.
Before his promotion to a substantive role, Rajput was first roped in on an interim basis after replacing Heath Streak who was fired in June after failing to guide the Chevrons to the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
As a player, Rajput had a sparkling first-class career with Mumbai in the 1980s, averaging just below 50 as a right-handed opening batsman.
Since his retirement as a player, Rajput has turned into a respected and successful international coach reputed for his passion, hard work and intimate knowledge of the game.
He has had flirtations with India, the India A and India Under-19 teams as well as the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
He has also transformed and led Afghanistan to Test status in his most recent success.
His next challenge now lies in rebuilding the Zimbabwe national team.
“To be very honest, I had come on an interim basis as I wanted to first assess the team and its players. It was important for me to understand the players, assess their strengths and weaknesses and their attitude towards the game.
“The players are very hardworking and the team strives to improve their performance in every game. I think I have in the last three months seen that the players are keen to work hard. If they are keen to work hard, my job becomes easier. My experience as an international player and coach can really make a difference to this team,” he said.
The gaffer said his main challenge is now to make the country great again.
“The biggest challenge is that I want to get the team where it was earlier because the team has fantastic players who have done really well. To have a full squad will be excellent. They will bring additional strength and confidence to the team. The likes of Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine – their coming back means a great deal,” said Rajput.
He said as head coach, his main aim was to add value and make a substantive difference to the team.
Rajput believes in hard work, team work, consistency, discipline and maintaining fitness levels are prerequisite for achieving success.
“My vast coaching experience should come in handy. I have worked with multiple players and teams during my career as a coach. As a coach, your man management skills are very crucial. It is important to make the players feel comfortable and work with them."
He said his immediate task will be to embark on tours to South Africa and Bangladesh at the end of September where the Chevrons have performed pathetically in their previous outings.
“As I said, I like challenges. South Africa and Bangladesh are among the toughest tours. But I think tough tours make you and the players even tougher. So with my experience I will make the players tough and to perform better in tough conditions. That is the biggest challenge and I think we can make a difference in that. I am very excited to get on the road with this team.
“We have a two-month camp and one month is already gone and we have really worked hard on our fitness. We have also worked hard on our skills – batting, bowling and fielding skills. Then we had match simulation, match days on Sundays. So we have really worked on all aspects of the game because I want to make them really tough so that when they go on tough tours like that it becomes easier," he said.