Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12 January 18, 2012

New Zealand can be beaten - Butcher

27

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AKS286 on January 20, 2012, 16:57 GMT

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

  • Gizza 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.

  • 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

  • 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.....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bigchops 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.

  • 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?????????

  • on January 19, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    india unbeatable by nz for past two years dont forgot gothetaniwha

  • on January 19, 2012, 5:14 GMT

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

  • AKS286 on January 20, 2012, 16:57 GMT

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

  • Gizza 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.

  • 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

  • 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.....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bigchops 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.

  • 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?????????

  • on January 19, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    india unbeatable by nz for past two years dont forgot gothetaniwha

  • on January 19, 2012, 5:14 GMT

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

  • Dr_Van_Nostrand on January 19, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    This match should be played on a sporty deck like Dunedin or Wellington, not a flat deck in Napier where if Zimbabwe apply themselves they can easily get a draw. Even the outer oval at the Eden!

  • on January 19, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    @Andrew Brighton

    thats totally ignorant, look at the records of zimbabwe in international cricket in the 20 years before their test status was removed, they were a genuine threat, beating big teams in ODIs regually, they actually had the ability to draw out tests against even the best teams, and somtimes win. bangladesh won a test series against a useless WI XI, and an odi series at home to an out of form new zealand. and thats it

  • on January 19, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    New Zealand always plays its best at home, it wont be easy and they are stepping into some pretty good form. Most NZ ppl expect this to be a warm up for the real tests against SA, but you can never under estimate your opponents in cricket. All it takes is 1 or 2 good partnerships or a decent bowler to take the game

  • mahjut on January 18, 2012, 21:06 GMT

    @ Andrew - well, in the last 20 years they've been a test playing nation for 15 (as I'm sure we all know). and putting their achievements another way: they've won 1 of 3 tests and pushed both others [PK who have since beaten SL and are now on top of the World #1 as well as NZ who have since beaten aus - who are claiming to have aspirations for the #1 spot before the next ashes and are giving the #2 team a white-washing] deep into the 5th day and NZ into the last hour with hearts in mouth ... since returning. Are you aware of what is happening in Zimbabwe cricket? It's always volatile in such an environment but the improvements in a very short time have been vast - the Franchises are attracting 'some' quality foreign players and the standard within the local ranks is rising by the season. The talent pool has widened (proabably not yet deepened) and there is progress. what is your reasoning for thinking it'll be as before? not that you're wrong necessarily but I'm not really following..

  • on January 18, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    @Max Horashio Jack Inkster-Baynes. Even ignoring the fact that Zim has been a test-playing nation for 20 years, all Zim has actually achieved since their return is a victory over Bang. They've shown promise, but unfortunately I think the next 20 years of test cricket for Zim will be much like the last 20 years.

  • gothetaniwha on January 18, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    I don,t think they can win , but if there is one pitch in NZ they have a chance to win or draw at its Napier , NZ has never won there , don,t know why we play cricket there - it,s a rugby ground , - it,s a flat deck - it,s a road , even India got a draw there .

  • mahjut on January 18, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    I'm not too optimisic: after the loss of our most experienced and improved seamer as well as arguably the most experienced (haven't checked) but certainly most improved batsman, it might be miserable of me to say but a return to the Curran "let's not embarrass ourselves" school of thought would not be a totally bad option! Matsi has not been in sublime first class form but it is a nice return to form for him in the shorter versions. I agree with @blake@ in essence - let Hammie, who's not in particularly great form but has experience to draw on, attempt to survive the opening role and shield the others while bringing Forster in at 6/7.

  • on January 18, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Of course Zimbabwe can beat New Zealand, i think Vusi Sibanda is a big loss to the batting unit, because Zim had a settled opening pair, now i think it gives opportunity for some other batsman to step up to the opener role. Brendan Taylor is very adept at opening but i would prefer to shield him to some extent at number 4, if he nicks off early zim is in big trouble. Masakadza is a solid choice to move up to open with mawoyo and then Forster Mutizwa can slot in at 6. I would like to see Malcom Waller at 3

  • nzcricket174 on January 18, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Touring NZ is better than hosting. A collapse is never too far away during a home season for the Black Caps.

  • on January 18, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    I think the omission of Vusi Sibanda wont do Zimbabwe any good.

  • Hrit24 on January 18, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    I think that Zimbabwe can win in New Zealand especially with Taylor, Waller and Jarvis in their ranks (the trio has impressed me the most). Obviously getting back Vitori and Cremer from injury is a great thing. Mpofu's injury was a real setback. As Butcher sums it up "He was consistent in the last few months". However, a certain Vusimuzi Sibanda's exclusion due to his efforts of making himself a more smarter batsman by going to play club cricket in Australia is pathetic. ZC has made a decision totally into the woods.

  • on January 18, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    zim has done well against nz in bulwayo but i dont think they r going to trouble nz in nz.

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    Really? this whole time i thought we were unbeatable...

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    New Zealand can be beaten but it will take a lot of courage, strength and self determination for Zimbabwe to achieve that feat. The decision to exclude Vusi Sibanda might come back to haunt Zimbabwe, but the Inclusion of Stuart Matsikinyeri who has been in sublime form on the domestic scene might be a perfect remedy.Vitori, Jarvis, Meth and Price will be key. if the batsman behave, Zim can surely beat New Zealand

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    I still say New Zealand can beat Zimbabwe. Ross Taylor is fresh to the role of captain, he will have brought new ideas and strategies into the side, the batsmen seem ready to play well, and the young bowlers like Southee and Bracewell are on a roll at the moment.

  • on January 18, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    Even as a New Zealander, it would be nice if Zimbabwe did a good job, I like them alot and they have achieved more in their first few months of test cricket back than bangladesh did in their first 10 years. I'd like to see a tight victory for new zealand :)

  • scotty12354 on January 18, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    zimbabwe can beat NZ at home. YEAH RIGHT!

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  • scotty12354 on January 18, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    zimbabwe can beat NZ at home. YEAH RIGHT!

  • on January 18, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    Even as a New Zealander, it would be nice if Zimbabwe did a good job, I like them alot and they have achieved more in their first few months of test cricket back than bangladesh did in their first 10 years. I'd like to see a tight victory for new zealand :)

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    I still say New Zealand can beat Zimbabwe. Ross Taylor is fresh to the role of captain, he will have brought new ideas and strategies into the side, the batsmen seem ready to play well, and the young bowlers like Southee and Bracewell are on a roll at the moment.

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    New Zealand can be beaten but it will take a lot of courage, strength and self determination for Zimbabwe to achieve that feat. The decision to exclude Vusi Sibanda might come back to haunt Zimbabwe, but the Inclusion of Stuart Matsikinyeri who has been in sublime form on the domestic scene might be a perfect remedy.Vitori, Jarvis, Meth and Price will be key. if the batsman behave, Zim can surely beat New Zealand

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    Really? this whole time i thought we were unbeatable...

  • on January 18, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    zim has done well against nz in bulwayo but i dont think they r going to trouble nz in nz.

  • Hrit24 on January 18, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    I think that Zimbabwe can win in New Zealand especially with Taylor, Waller and Jarvis in their ranks (the trio has impressed me the most). Obviously getting back Vitori and Cremer from injury is a great thing. Mpofu's injury was a real setback. As Butcher sums it up "He was consistent in the last few months". However, a certain Vusimuzi Sibanda's exclusion due to his efforts of making himself a more smarter batsman by going to play club cricket in Australia is pathetic. ZC has made a decision totally into the woods.

  • on January 18, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    I think the omission of Vusi Sibanda wont do Zimbabwe any good.

  • nzcricket174 on January 18, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Touring NZ is better than hosting. A collapse is never too far away during a home season for the Black Caps.

  • on January 18, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Of course Zimbabwe can beat New Zealand, i think Vusi Sibanda is a big loss to the batting unit, because Zim had a settled opening pair, now i think it gives opportunity for some other batsman to step up to the opener role. Brendan Taylor is very adept at opening but i would prefer to shield him to some extent at number 4, if he nicks off early zim is in big trouble. Masakadza is a solid choice to move up to open with mawoyo and then Forster Mutizwa can slot in at 6. I would like to see Malcom Waller at 3