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Utseya takes pride in mentoring future stars

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

ZIMBABWE Cricket in recent years has witnessed a burst of immensely talented young cricketers on the local cricket front as the old guard, which had formed the backbone of the team for several years, begins to pave way for the new generation.

And one of the former players who has been playing a key role in mentoring the country’s future cricket stars is former national team captain Prosper Utseya.

Utseya represented the country in 164 One Day Internationals (ODIs), 35 Twenty20 Internationals and four Tests between 2004 and 2015, claiming 159 wickets on the international stage.

After a successful playing career, Utseya’s transition to coaching proved seamless after he was offered a role in the Under-19 set up initially as a bowling coach before rising to become the head coach.

During this time he has worked with most of local cricket’s most exciting prospects who went on to make the senior team debuts such as such as Liam Roche, Wesley Madhevere, Dion Myers, Milton Shumba and Tadiwanashe Marumani.

At the recent World Cup in January Utseya’s side included future stars such as captain Emmanuel Bawa, the Bennett brothers Brian and David as well as Tendekai Mataranyika.

Ultimately it is a responsibility that the former economic spin bowler does not take lightly.

“It’s a different challenge altogether from being a player to coaching. It comes with great responsibility, high expectations and more importantly this being a key stage of development phase of young players which requires high level of excellence focusing on creating the right mind-set in the players, instilling the right values, emphasizing the importance of clear thinking, peak fitness for cricket, creating a platform for continuous learning and mastery of basics,” Utseya told The Sports Hub in an interview this week. Identified at an early age as a leader on the cricket field, before he was entrusted with the national team captaincy later on in his career, Utseya says it was his early mentors and teammates who stirred the tutor in him during his playing days.

“During my playing days I used to get comments from fellow teammates and coaches suggesting that I should consider taking up a coaching role after my playing career,” Utseya said.

“Everyone thought I had good understanding of the game and would make a good coach one day. However due to unforeseen circumstances I made the decision to get into coaching earlier than anticipated.”

Utseya, who looks up to legendary former All Blacks coach Steven Hensen for inspiration said although he was taking each step as it comes, his main goal in his coaching is to reach world class heights.

“I try not to think too far ahead and focus on the job at hand but should the opportunity comes along I wouldn’t mind. My ambition is to reach world class heights and one of the people who has had a big influence on me and my coaching philosophy is former New Zealand rugby coach Sir Steven Hansen. I had a pleasure of meeting with him during one of our tours in New Zealand and he shared his knowledge, his coaching record and philosophy and it was very inspiring,” he said.

The 36-year-old coach believes the future of Zimbabwe cricket is bright due to the number of talented young cricketers coming up the ranks.

“We have over the  years have always produced young cricketers  at youth level  with potential to  be  world class players, not only during my tenure this gives me confidence with hard work and commitment  our future can be bright,” he said.

“I have enjoyed the challenge because I’m very passionate about the game. It makes me proud of the boys and gives me great pleasure to see growth in them from boys to men. I am confident the lessons learnt through cricket and spending time together will help as they begin to journey into the world as young adults,” Utseya added.

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