Zimbabwe's consistent spells as the bottom-ranked team, 25 years after being granted Test status, are down to sporadic scheduling and the subsequent migration of players, said their head coach Heath Streak. Speaking to the media ahead of the first match of their Sri Lanka tour, Streak highlighted the difficulty of retaining talent with large gaps in the calendar.
"It's well-documented [that] there have been a lot of players who have left and are playing around the world who come from Zimbabwe," he said.
"It's been tough for Zimbabwe to retain some of these players and hence we are constantly rebuilding. We've got a lot of young guys in our team. If you look around the world, and look at Zimbabweans internationally, we've got the likes of Gary Ballance, the Curran boys Sam and Tom, who just debuted for England, and Kyle Jarvis playing county cricket successfully.
"We've got a lot of these guys out there whom we are trying to lure back. Part of their problem is the volume of cricket that Zimbabwe plays. That's something that we can't address, obviously. It's a Catch 22 situation. We've got to play good competitive cricket for other countries to give us matches and that's something we are really targeting [to do].
"Hopefully we can get some of those players to return to Zimbabwe and complement a talented group of players that we have brought to the shores of Sri Lanka. It's going to be a challenge because of the lack of cricket. We have these big gaps in between series and that's probably our biggest challenge to get the guys to get used to playing at elite level."
The situation, in addition to having an impact on Zimbabwe's performance on the field, has also been 'a big challenge' for Streak as head coach.
"You inherit the players and your job is to try and get the best out of them. I certainly think that the team we've got here has got the ability to win against any side," he said.
"We had some good preparation coming into the series and I am looking forward to a lot of guys who can pull around. The future of Zimbabwe cricket is brighter if we keep doing the right things."