Pressure grows on Zimbabwe

Phil Simmons, Zimbabwe's under-fire coach, has defended his side's right to retain their Test status despite their humiliating defeat in the first Test at Newlands, but the pressure is growing for the ICC to review the position.

Dave Houghton, a former captain and coach of Zimbabwe, had called for Zimbabwe to be rested from Test cricket to try to allow them to rebuild, but Simmons said that other sides had suffered drubbings in the past without such ideas being raised.

"It happens, teams get bowled out," Simmons said. "If I didn't believe this team had the potential to improve I wouldn't be in this job." Tatenda Taibu also rejected Houghton's proposals with a terse: "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion."

Graeme Smith admitted that the win had not given his players the same satisfaction as beating other Test sides, but explained that Zimbabwe would continue to be taken seriously by his team. "We have to," he explained. "Cricket doesn't allow you not to take anyone seriously. You still have to concentrate and produce good cricket, even if it isn't of the level of Australia or England."

Smith refused, however, to be drawn into discussing the matter of Zimbabwe's Test status. "That's not my call, it's the International Cricket Council's call. You give them respect by treating them the same as any other Test nation, but it's the ICC's call whether it's fair or not."

If players and officials were maintaining a diplomatic silence, certain journalists were not. In the Cape Argus, Michael Owen-Smith wrote: "What happened at Newlands on Friday and Saturday was not Test cricket by any stretch of the imagination, so Zimbabwe's future as a five-day contestant will have to be on the agenda for the ICC meeting in India later this month - whether the politicians like it or not."

And in London's Daily Telegraph, Neil Manthorp argued that: "Zimbabwe's last allies in the fight to keep full status have given up. The next time the motion to limit Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to home tests is presented to the ICC, South Africa will change their vote from 'no' to 'yes'."