Very honoured to join the Kolkata Knight Riders, Heath Streak reveals in an interview with Sportskeeda
The former Zimbabwean captain talks about cricket in his country, the 2019 World Cup and his upcoming stint with KKR
Former captain of the Zimbabwe national side and its current bowling coach, Heath Streak spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda on a host of issues such as Zimbabwe's run in the ICC World Cup qualifiers, a 10-team 2019 World Cup and his upcoming stint with the IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Quite a close finish against Scotland last day, it must feel great to be a part of a Zimbabwe outfit that's doing well - how are the qualifiers coming along?
Good, good, been quite busy with it and it's been hectic. We've had two close games in our group stage matches, so yeah. But happy to come out on top of the group.
Now it's the business end, we've got three big games to play against Ireland, West Indies and UAE in the Super Six stage.
Optimistic about Zimbabwe's chances going forward?
Very much, I think there are teams we are capable of beating. Obviously, West Indies and Ireland are the tougher ones. But I feel that at home, we know the conditions and we've been playing some good cricket - so hopefully, we can keep the momentum going. Also, our home support will add a bit extra to it.
Do you think it's a pity that only two out of Zimbabwe, West Indies, Afghanistan and Ireland will eventually make it to the 2019 World Cup?
It's a sentiment that's shared by quite a few people. Most sports that have World Cups are expanding, therefore for us to be going down from 14 teams in the last WC down to 10 [in 2019] isn't progressive.
It is sad because I think most of these teams would be very competitive in a World Cup. And people enjoy having new teams that they don't see all the time.
What do you think is lacking in Zimbabwe cricket right now that isn't allowing it to fulfil its potential - any magic pill that may help taking cricket in your country back to its glory days?
Currently, there's certainly no lack of ability or talent and we've shown that in periods, we've been able to compete with the rest of the world.
Just that we don't play as much cricket as the big teams at the elite level. Also, we've lost a lot of players, if you look at the likes of [Sean] Ervine and Gary Ballance, who've gone on to play for other international teams.
We need to play a lot more cricket, domestically and internationally, and that's something we need to do. During my time, when we were successful, we were probably playing a lot more cricket than our current national team is playing.
You must be seeing it as a positive that someone like Brendon Taylor has returned to don national colours again...
Three players in fact - Brendon Taylor, Carl Jarvis and Solomon Mire - have returned. All three have played a massive part in our successes recently. From my perspective, it's been very good to have those guys back. It's also showed a lot of young people that there's a future for people here in Zimbabwe.
We've been hearing unconfirmed reports in the media, but can you confirm whether you are joining the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as their bowling coach?
Yes, I am on-board as the bowling coach for KKR this season. Very honoured to join such a reputable franchise with such a rich history in the IPL.
The fact that KKR's auction strategy this year was around its quicks, add to that the new zippy nature of the Eden Gardens wicket, does it add more pressure on you?
I think there's always pressure, and for me, it's exciting to have the group of quicks that we have. Obviously, the international bowlers speak for themselves, but we've got young Indian quicks like [Kamlesh] Nagarkoti and [Shivam] Mavi who I am really excited about.
I've looked at them during the Under-19 World Cup and they genuinely have some real ability and talent, so it'll be fun to work with them.
We've got real balance and variation within our seam department and spin department, it's very exciting to be able to work in that environment.
You were one of the top quicks of your era, do you look forward to forging a good partnership with one of the best from the current lot - Mitchell Starc?
Yeah, very much. Mitch is a world-class bowler and has been a wonderful bowler for Australia for a very long time now. He bowls at speed and swings the bowl, it's really nice to have such bowlers. From that perspective, it makes it even more admirable to be able to work with a guy like him, it will be fantastic and I really look forward to it.
Any learnings from your stint with the Gujarat Lions that you'll be taking along with you to Kolkata?
My time with the Lions helped me a lot, it's just the knowledge of the other players, especially the Indian players, [the] local conditions and some of the venues is a big plus. Knowing some of the opposition we're going to be up against and what they do does help.
For me, the IPL is such a pleasure to be involved in. Everything is so professional, the crowds are so vibrant and energetic. And to be able to be in front of full stadiums most of the time is something we are very blessed with.
What do you think is the reason why we are yet to see extensive participation from Zimbabwe in the IPL, especially when players from Afghanistan and even Nepal are being picked up?
Like I said earlier, we are not getting as much exposure as some of these other teams are. But I do believe there are some players who are likely to get a look going forward.
The likes of Graeme Cremer, who I think was really unlucky to not be a part of one of the franchises. Brendon Taylor, Solomon Mire are the others who can make it to the IPL.
On a lighter note, we do have [Colin de] Grandhomme who plays in the IPL as a New Zealand national but is actually one of ours.
Getting exposure against big teams is the key, for example during the time I played alongside the Flower brothers and the likes of Campbell & Olonga, Zimbabwe played India a lot more.
Nowadays, we play India a lot less - I think if we had a few more series against India and the guys did perform, you would see a few more Zimbabweans coming into the IPL.
Clearly, you've been thriving in your current role in the national setup, but do you still harbour ambitions of coaching big nations like India someday?
For me, the short-term thing is that I'd like to take Zimbabwe to the World Cup. Saying so, to coach some of the big teams in world cricket is always massive and of course, that's something I'll look to do in the future.