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April 20, 2006
Andy Pycroft, Zimbabwe's team manager, wants to put in the background the politics and the economics that have afflicted Zimbabwe's cricket in recent times. Instead he wants to concentrate on developing their reconstructed, inexperienced side for their forthcoming trip to the Caribbean.
"We're looking at cricket not politics and trying to prepare this new side as quickly as we can."
As they prepare to head for the West Indies for a series of seven one-day internationals, starting on April 29, Pycroft is optimistic they will make the type of progress to ensure they return to Test cricket early next year.
"We wouldn't be doing what we're doing unless we believe it was possible," Pycroft said. "The time frame set to try and get back into Test cricket is February next year.
"We've very much been focused on one-day cricket because we believe that's the way to bring the side through and then get back into longer cricket once we've got the experience that we need."
Pycroft, who played three Tests and 20 one-day internationals for Zimbabwe between 1983 and 1992, was speaking from Harare during an interview with CMC CricketPlus during the third day of the Carib Beer Challenge final between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados at Guracara Park on Monday.
A series victory, he admitted, would certainly raise a lot of eyebrows. "A lot of people have written Zimbabwe cricket off with the problems they've had, but there is still a lot of potential there."
Their 16-man squad, led by Terrance Duffin, includes several players with very little international experience, but the manager is upbeat about the preparations.
"The mood's been very good. It's a very young side. The average age is only something just over 20 years old, forced on us because a lot of players have given up in the recent past," Pycroft said. "The side we've got together has been practising hard over the last five or six weeks. They are learning quickly and playing quite well. The strength of the side is more in the bowling department. The batting is quite inexperienced."
Prior to coming to the Caribbean, Zimbabwe played against Kenya and after the ODIs against the West Indies, they will remain for a triangular limited-overs series in Trinidad that also involves Bermuda and Canada.
"We want these lads to get as much experience as possible. A lot of these guys haven't played at international level," Pycroft said. "They are getting better and better. The aim of this tour is to give them experience as quickly as possible and to be as competitive as possible. There is no doubt we can do it."
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