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May 2, 2010
Alan Butcher, the Zimbabwe coach, has backed his team's strength in spin bowling to cause Sri Lanka problems when the two teams meet at Providence on Monday. Zimbabwe could open the bowling with two spinners and have the option to use as many as six or seven in the innings on the slow Guyana pitch.
Zimbabwe have played plenty of cricket in West Indies recently - first the T20 and one-day tour then the trip to Grenada to face West Indies A - and spin has been central to their strategy throughout. Ray Price, the left-armer, often takes the new ball while captain Prosper Utseya and legspinner Graeme Cremer are the other frontline options. Utseya can also call on Greg Lamb, Timycen Maruma and Brendan Taylor depending on team selection.
"We haven't yet got the fast-bowling resources to change that strategy," Butcher told Cricinfo, "but on the other hand why would you because spinners have done exceptionally well in Twenty20 all over the world. Taking pace off the ball is a vital tactic."
Zimbabwe produced two notable victories against Australia and Pakistan during their warm-up matches and Butcher said they couldn't have come at a better time after a tough couple of weeks in Grenada.
"The boost that the two results last week gave us has been immense. We came off the back of a pretty disappointing time in Grenada against West Indies A where we lost the four-day game and two T20s.
"They [the wins] were obviously of less importance to the two teams we were playing, but on the day there was no doubt that they were trying to win and we played pretty well. You have to be happy that there is progress being made."
However, while spin bowling is clearly Zimbabwe's strong point they still need enough runs to play with and the batting remains a concern. Elton Chigumbura, who has recently signed for Northamptonshire, showed his importance to the side with a thunderous 75 off 35 balls against Australia and 49 off 35 balls against Pakistan, but contributions from the top order have been limited.
"The batting has been a problem, but over the last couple of days I've seen an improvement and that people are starting to work out their games better," Butcher said, but he singled out Chigumbura for praise. "Against Australia and Pakistan he struck the ball brilliantly and he could be a star of the tournament if we do manage to sneak a win and progress."
Read the full interview here
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