ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12

New Zealand can be beaten - Butcher

Firdose Moonda

January 18, 2012

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Kyle Jarvis high-fives Chris Mpofu after completing his maiden five-for, Zimbabwe v New Zealand, only Test, Bulawayo, 4th day, November 4, 2011
Alan Butcher hopes Zimbabwe can carry forward the confidence from the last encounter between the two sides © AFP
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Players/Officials: Alan Butcher | Graeme Cremer | Brendan Taylor
Series/Tournaments: Zimbabwe tour of New Zealand

Zimbabwe have the courage and confidence to compete with and beat New Zealand in the one-off Test in Napier starting on January 26, according to their head coach Alan Butcher. Since making their return to Test cricket in August last year, Butcher said the team had grown significantly from a mental perspective and are ready for their first challenge away from home in the new era.

Zimbabwe endured the worst period in their cricketing history during six years of self-imposed exile from the longest form of the game. Defeats, disunity and disappointment abounded before they were able to make a commitment to rebuilding in 2010. Zimbabwe were ready for Test cricket again in August 2011 and beat Bangladesh in their comeback match in Harare. They played three series, all one-off Tests, in as many months and lost to Pakistan and New Zealand.

Their defeat to New Zealand was by a margin of only 34 runs. Had they had managed to score those runs, they would have achieved a record Zimbabwean run chase. Although they didn't, Butcher saluted the team's efforts in just their third Test back. "People didn't give us much of a chance so I was proud that we got that close," he told ESPNcricinfo on the eve of Zimbabwe's departure for New Zealand. "But I was also disappointed. We deserved to win it and to get that close and lose was disappointing."

The match highlighted one of Zimbabwe's chief concerns on re-entering Test cricket: the inferiority complex that plagues so-called minnows, including Bangladesh. Throughout his tenure, Butcher has talked about developing Zimbabwe's sense of self-belief and self-assuredness and as they embark on their first overseas tour as a readmitted Test nation, he says they have made progress. The results against New Zealand, which also included a record ODI chase by Zimbabwe, have helped.

"I hope that the confidence we showed in those two matches will continue," Butcher said. "In a lot of areas we showed that New Zealand can be beaten. What was really pleasing is that we did not have a bad day in the Test match, we played good cricket on all five days. And to win a one-dayer of that magnitude gave us a big boost. When we get into winning positions we have to be able to finish it off. The more times you get into a winning position, the more times you believe you can win."

One of the chief protagonists in getting Zimbabwe into situations where victory is a possibility is their captain Brendan Taylor. He scored back to back centuries in the ODIs against New Zealand and a hundred in the second innings of the Test. Taylor was offered a contract with Wellington to play in the HRV Cup as reward for his talents.

Butcher said Taylor's early experience of the New Zealand stint will help his leadership role and the team as a whole. "It's been good to have him there, getting some inside information and insights on the conditions and a few of the players," Butcher said. "And he has been fairly successful, which is a great feather in his cap." Taylor was among the top 10 leading run-scorers in the Twenty20 tournament.

The tour will also give some of Zimbabwe's inexperienced Test players, particularly the bowlers, a taste of the big time. With senior seamer Chris Mpofu ruled out with a lower back injury, the third seamer's spot is vacant. "[Kyle] Jarvis and [Brian] Vitori will be vital for us with the new ball but I would like to see one of Keegan Meth or Shingarai Masakadza do well in the third seamer's spot," Butcher said. "And both of them can hold a bat as well.

"Graeme Cremer will also be interesting to watch. He may not get to play this time but it will be nice to see how an attacking spinner progresses." Cremer has not been part of Zimbabwe's comeback after a long recovery from a knee injury and may have to sit out for the experienced Ray Price if Zimbabwe opt for a safety-first approach. He is not in the ODI squad and will return to Zimbabwe, to be replaced by Prosper Utseya.

From a batting perspective, Butcher said he would like to see "a couple of the fringe players" step up. "Guys like Forster Mutizwa and Regis Chakabva have good records in domestic cricket and it will be nice to see them do well. Then we will be well stocked."

Butcher said he would have loved to have had opening batsman Vusi Sibanda as part of the touring party but respected the decision of the cricket committee to exclude him. Sibanda was declared ineligible for national selection after choosing to play grade cricket in Australia and declining a Zimbabwe Cricket contract at the start of the season. He has since returned to Zimbabwe and is currently on a pay-as-you-play arrangement with the Mid-West Rhinos, which could turn into a full-time contract that will qualify him for national selection again.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 27 
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Posted by Anupam on (January 20, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

taylor will bring the days flower brothers, johnson, hteak. gud luk ZIMbABWE

Posted by Girik on (January 20, 2012, 3:23 GMT)

Zimbabwe will definitely be competitive. If they get a wee bit of luck but not too much (maybe the toss and a couple of dropped catches) I wouldn't bet against them beating the Kiwis.

Posted by mahjut on (January 20, 2012, 0:11 GMT)

@ Andrew..the Franchises have defo removed some of the hard-core political bite out of Zim cricket...some of the political aims have been achieved to some level of satisfaction anyway. I am more hopeful about Zim cricket than i have been in a decade and i am a realist - i am fully aware of behind the scenes dealings but some stability withing the ZC system is evident and the improvement in FC cricket is not to be dismissed. I would certainly not consider Union more popular than cricket in Zim. Football of course but as i said the interest in cricket has no doubt widened in zim. I;m not too interested in comparing past but I'm pretty sure Zim have beaten every Test nation in an ODI -series in some cases. @Bigchops...I fear our delusions are shared equally. Zim's hopefulness of competing with NZ is no more misplaced than yours of competing with SA. NZ are clear favs vs Zim and SA are clear favs vs NZ

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 22:33 GMT)

@Andrew Brighton, please do some research before making comments on this forum. The Hon. Minister for Sport, Education and Culture in Zimbabwe is Senator David Coltart. If not for him this tour would not be going ahead. Robert Mugabe is certainly not the Minister of Sport! I wonder if you've ever been to Zim Andrew? Cricket is by far the most popular sport - even ahead of football (soccer). Hardly anyone is playing rugby these days. Note that Zim did not qualify for AFCON (soccer) or the rugby world cup.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

@nanda kumar - Hmm India looks to be going down 4-0 against a team we recently beat in there own backyard, India may have beat us over a year ago but both teams are in a completely different place now. @ Sankar Natarajan - slightly ahead??? in tests NZ is 8th with a rating of 83, Zim is on 45. ODI's NZ - 7th @ 87 and Zim 10th @ 47. T20I NZ is 2nd @ 117 Zim is 10th (behind Afghanistan) @ 54. I'm not completely writing Zim off don't get me wrong, but there is a gap and NZ are always tough in our own conditions. Zim have shown signs of promise but finding consistency is what its all about, especially when playing away from home.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

@mahjut. What I'm getting at is the country is still unstable. While reports say things are getting better the cause of the problem is still the countries leader (and sports minister I believe.) Nothing in Zim will change, including their cricket, while Mugabe is still in control.

@Max. Apart from Bang, Zim have had 2 test wins over Ind and 2 over Pak, while Bang has beaten every test playing nation in ODIs. While Zim have a marginally better record than Bang they were the Bang of test cricket before Bang and are on the same footing now. The difference is Bang have over 10x the population than Zim and their national sport is cricket. In Zim football and union are bigger than cricket. There is far more potential in Bang cricket than there is in Zim cricket.

However, my realism sure sounds like pesimism.What I really mean is good luck to Zimbabwe and I wish your cricketers and your country well.

Posted by Justyn on (January 19, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

New Zealand will be far too strong,their confidence from beating oz will flow through, cant wait for the SA series that will be very even. My only concern is Southee , he needs to pitch up more often he was a little short against oz.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

I M STILL NOT GETTIN D INFO REGARDING THE "LIVE BROADCAST" of this series in INDIA??? Which Sports network gonna show dis & d series wid SA ?? Izz it NEO or ESPN STAR or SONY??? Can somebody help me out plzzz?????????

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

india unbeatable by nz for past two years dont forgot gothetaniwha

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 19, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

yes NZ can be beaten they are only slightly ahead of Zimbabwe.

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