01 January 2015
Around the wicket with: Paul Strang
With the batting prowess of Andy Flower, the lion-hearted pace-bowling of Heath Streak and the all-round ability of Neil Johnson, Zimbabwe enjoyed a golden period in the late 1990s – and no one contributed more than leg-spinner Paul Strang.
Paul Strang was Zimbabwe's premier spin bowler of the 1990s
We went around the wicket with Paul Strang to ask him six quick questions about the ICC Cricket World Cup and what we can expect to see from Zimbabwe at #cwc15
What are your memories of your first World Cup in 1996?
Great memories. It was my first ICC Cricket World Cup. We played Kenya on a reserve-day and they needed a helicopter to dry the outfield. I picked up five wickets which was my best return in ODI cricket. Although we didn’t push on in the tournament, we were a bit of a banana skin team for most teams.
What was the secret to Zimbabwe’s strong 1999 campaign?
We had a maturing team - the late 1990s were the hey-day for Zimbabwe cricket. In 1999 we had Neil Johnson, Murray Goodwin, Andy Flower and Heath Streak all at the peak of their ability. There was a lot of experience, for some players it was their second or third ICC Cricket World Cup.
The win over South Africa was huge and then we turned over India in a big upset. In the end, the results went against us and we just missed out on the semi-finals due to net run-rate. It was bitter-sweet, we had a great tournament but missed out on progressing into the semi-finals.
How do you think Zimbabwe will go in 2015?
I think Zimbabwe will challenge for the quarter-finals. They will be a team that no one will want to face because they can cause an upset. On their day they can chase down a decent score – like Australia found out recently.
Players to watch in 2015 for Zimbabwe?
Elton Chigumbura. He has played a lot of cricket around the world and has had more exposure than most of the players in the squad. He is someone who is capable of turning a game.
Brendon Taylor is another to watch – a dynamic wicket-keeper-batsmen. I think the bowling unit as a whole will be worth watching. They work well together and will do a good job.
What is your most memorable ODI wicket/moment?
In terms of ICC Cricket World Cups, I had Ricky Ponting caught and bowled in the 1996 tournament. That was a great wicket even though we went onto lose that match. In ODI cricket, it would have to be the home-series against England in 1996/7. We won the series 3-0 and I picked up three wickets in the second match at Harare which we won by seven runs.
You played in an era of great leg-spinners, what are your thoughts on the world’s current crop of leg spinners?
The leg-spin bowlers in the current era have a hard time. When I was playing it was about conceding three or four runs an over and picking up the odd wicket. Now spinners have to go into an attacking mindset and bowl in power-plays with slips in place. It’s tough for modern spin bowlers.
I worked with Ish Sodhi (New Zealand) when he was a raw bowler. He was keen and passionate, now he is rounding off the edges and learning his trade – he will be one to watch.
Cameron Boyce from Australia looks like a good prospect too. Often it is the unknown bowlers who can be most effective.
Paul Strang ICC Cricket World Cup record
Tournaments: 2 (1996, 1999)
ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Squads by the Numbers
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