Alistair Campbell is one of the most remarkable cricketers in the history of Zimbabwe cricket. He may not have achieved big success as a premier batsman of the team, but his contribution to the development of Zimbabwe side is of great importance.
He is arguably the most knowledgeable cricketer in the team and always comes up with brilliant ideas. He is the sort of cricketer who believes in calling a spade a spade. This doesn't mean that he is a rebel in the team.
In fact none would doubt his sheer commitment to the team and his professional approach. A senior cricketer in the squad, Campbell mixes very well with the youngsters and there in lies his importance. "I would like to see Zimbabwe winning a Test series," Campbell said in an exclusive interview with Thatscricket.com. Excerpts of the interview:
How do you look at your career so far?
It has been pretty satisfying for me so far. I had a lean period about two years ago, but in the last 12 months or so I am scoring a lot of runs and I am really trying to make up the loss.
As one of the senior most cricketers in the team what do you have to say about the percentage rate of success of Zimbabwe, which is not all that inspiring?
I think it is because of our inability to play good cricket under pressure. But we are learning fast and we must know how to handle the pressure point. This is one of the reasons that teams like Australia and South Africa are the top teams as they really handle the pressure point well.
Basically we need our mind to be much stronger so that we can win games in the crunch situations. It has happened many times that we have lost matches from winning situations. It is high time that we overcame this problem.
Given your experience, you must have a lot of inputs for the overall improvement of Zimbabwe cricket?
We need to improve our basics first. Yes I am talking about first-class cricket and school cricket and we need to play more international matches. If we have a good set up at home in first-class and school cricket then we will have a good number of players as well and I believe that would make our team stronger and more competitive.
We also need to work hard on various tactics and mental aspects. We also have to work on how to play on pitches in the sub-continent and their spinners. I think this is a vital experience for any cricketer and the tour like India definitely helps seamers also.
They (seamers) would learn where to pitch the ball on the flat wickets and how to use the crease and more importantly to bat or to field under the scorching Indian Sun. This experience is must for the overall development of cricket for any nation.
What about the first-class cricket structure back home, don't you play much of first-class cricket?
Our younger players don't play and don't get enough chances to play first-class cricket. Our infrastructure is not that sound and those players who do get to play in the domestic matches do not get to play with the national players. The national players are most of the time travelling playing for Zimbabwe and that causes some problem.
So the youngsters jump from limited domestic experience to the international scene and find it difficult to handle the situation in the big stage. We can learn from playing international cricket, but the youngsters just don't get enough cricket to play at that level.
And the experience they get while playing lower level cricket is not helpful all the time. Now we are getting a little bit more exposure and money is now coming into the game in our country. So, I suppose things will improve.
Are you happy with the progress of Zimbabwe since they got Test status in 1992?
I think - if you look at the figure of loses and wins - we haven't done badly in our first decade. We have won three Tests but I think we could have won at least seven to eight more Tests more, which we ultimately lost. If we had won those Tests also, I think that would be a tremendous record.
We are learning and we are not overwhelmed. we have done so well in Limited Overs cricket where we are a very competitive side. So I must say that we are going from strength to strength. I would like to play for five or years more and in this period I would like to see my side winning more Tests and Test series as well.