Former Zimbabwe opening batsman Andy Waller was the surprise package among the three candidates interviewed for the national team coaching job yesterday.
The other two, current national team assistant coach Steven Mangongo, and batting coach Grant Flower, had been expected to get invitations for the interviews.
The post falls vacant when Alan Butcher's contract runs out in April Interviews for national cricket's coaching jobs started on Wednesday with candidates for the national Under-19 side being interviewed.
The post for the senior national team job is likely to generate more interest as ZC has opted to employ a local coach with Mangongo, Flower and Waller emerging as front runners as first reported by IndependentSport.
Bowling coach Heath Streak, reportedly in the running, was not invited for the interview and it could not be established whether or not he had applied for the job.
ZC is set to announce the new coach before the team departs for the Caribbean where it is scheduled to play two Tests, three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20s against the West Indies.
Mangongo's dream of coaching the national team appeared to be over after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) issued a directive compelling all national associations to only consider former national team players for positions in their selection panels. The SRC later toned it down to allow for selectors who have not played for the national team, however barring them from chairing the panel.
Mangongo has never played for the national team and since the coach sits on the selection committee by virtue of his position, he would have been automatically disqualified had the directive been implemented in its original form.
Mangongo is one of the most experienced local coaches having held various coaching positions from club level as well as at junior and national team levels.
He is also a former convener of selectors and established the Highfield-based Takashinga Cricket Club, which has consistently churned out national team players.
He is credited with discovering and nurturing the likes of former wicketkeeper batsman Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda and Stuart Matsikenyere, among others.
Mangongo faces stiff competition from former national team top order batsman Flower, who is currently coaching MidWest Rhinos.
Flower gained a wealth of experience playing for the national team where he regularly contributed with the ball as a part time spinner.
He also played County Cricket at Essex and has been the batting coach for Zimbabwe for the past three years.
Flower represented Zimbabwe in 67 Tests and 221 ODIs and was also revered for his fielding skills. He is regarded as one of the best players ever produced by Zimbabwe since playing in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test against India in 1992.
At 53, Waller is the oldest on the shortlist. The former national team batsman suffered a spate of injuries during his playing time but represented Zimbabwe at the 1987, 1992 and 1996 World Cups and won his first Test cap at 37 years.
Waller's coaching experience includes a role in the Namibian national team where he was head of the technical team. He was also the coaching manager for ZC in 2009.
Waller, father to national team batsmen Malcolm and Nathan, has also coached the MidWest Rhinos.