Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Harare September 11, 2011

Butcher wants braver batting


Alan Butcher, the Zimbabwe coach, called for "braver" batting from his team after their 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan that cost them the ODI series. Butcher said their reluctance to try and score more quickly was due to a lack of confidence and that they are capable of scoring more runs if they changed their mindset.

"I still feel that the side don't necessarily believe in themselves as much as they should. We need to be braver if we are going to post totals that win matches."

Zimbabwe crawled to 225 for 6 after batting slowly on a pitch that was easier to score runs on than the surface in Bulawayo, where they also lost. Instead of showcasing their shots, Zimbabwe employed an ultra-cautious approach against the variations of Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema and even treated the spinners, whose role was almost negated by the strip, with circumspection.

Butcher thinks that the batsmen's watchfulness was overcompensation for the fear of being bundled out cheaply. "In the not too distant past we were prone to collapses and so people are perhaps a little bit wary of trying to expand their game too early in case we lose wickets and that's may be holding us back a bit."

Both Zimbabwe's openers were out by the 14th over with only 36 runs on the board and that prompted Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor to retreat into a shell and consolidate. They did not actively pierce the gaps and although they put on a century third-wicket partnership, they scored slowly. "Perhaps we were a bit inflexible in the way we tried to play," Butcher said. "We were trying to hit the ball hard instead of deflect it and with the ball moving around a bit, we didn't score enough runs in the third man and fine leg area which just dried up our scoring rate and made it easy for Pakistan to bowl to us."

The performance by Zimbabwe's two senior batsmen did not go unappreciated though, with Masakadza's a little overdue after a bit of a lean spell. "Without ever looking in prime form, Hamilton stuck through a lot of difficult periods and was just looking as if he was starting to strike the ball well when he was run out," Butcher said.

Taylor's knock was needed for a different reason, to make up for the blunder he made at the toss, when he forgot the team's plan and said they would like to bat instead of field. Taylor admitted his mistake in the post-match interview and Butcher said that it was not something that the team would dwell on. "We decided that we wanted to bowl, he [Taylor] happened to say the wrong thing," Butcher said. "He stood up in front of everybody and said that's what he did. It takes a big man to admit his mistake. It's something that happens; we'll have to live with that and move on."

Zimbabwe's line-up were surprised to hear that they needed to take first guard, but Butcher did not see that as an excuse for them posting a below-par total and said they should have scored more. Taylor had a total of around 250 in mind, but Butcher could not be sure how many runs would have been enough to defend successfully, because Pakistan's openers were in such devastating form. "If we'd got 250-260, it would have put them under a bit of pressure but that possibly wouldn't have been enough, given the way they played and the pitch was a very good one."

Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan's centurion was also pleased with the way the pitch played, with more bounce and carry on offer than Bulawayo. "We tried to spend more time on the wicket because it was easier to get runs than it was at Queens," he said. "We were very determined to win this game because it was the decider of the three."

With the series won for Pakistan, Zimbabwe will have nothing but pride to play for in the dead rubber on September 14. Even though it will not change the outcome of the series, a good performance there will make a statement about the progression of cricket in the country.

"Every game that we play is important on many levels, especially in terms of gaining credibility at international cricket and for individuals to show that they can perform at the top level," Butcher said. "Of course we want to win because every game that we win is vital to the development of cricket in this country."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2011, 20:02 GMT

    Zimbabwe has shown a lot of patience and concentration in the middle overs. They always had a good plan, but the top order and lower middle order batsmen got unlucky and weren't able to execute the plan properly. I remember this is what happened in WC 1992 when Pakistan's openers got out cheaply, and then Miandad and Imran khan batted their heart out through middle overs. Kind of like how Taylor and Masakadza batted yesterday. Then, After Miandad got out, Inzemam came in and upped the run rate. The only bad luck with Zimbabwe batting was that lower middle order didn't really click. Then, the bowlers also failed to threaten and put any pressure on the batsmen. But, since this was a batting track to begin with, I can understand why the bowlers weren't able to cause much trouble.

  • Andrew on September 12, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    I think yesterday was just a genuine off day for Zimbabwe. First, Brendan got muddled up and chose to bat when he wanted to bowl. I can't blame him because he is under a lot of pressure and is still inexperienced as a captain. Having said that, I think he has shown really admirable ability in test and ODI captaincy so far. I think our batting is also still scarred from the collapse in the second innings of the test, and they are a bit afraid of Pakistan's bowlers. That is why they batted so slowly. Then, I agree that for our bowlers to not even take one wicket is a massive failure and it does not represent their abilities. I do believe that it is a fairly good bowling lineup who should at least have been able to put Pak under pressure. As long as the guys keep learning it will be good. It is heartening to see Pakistan fans saying that they can see the talent and character of the team.

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    credit must be given to the team.obviously the batsman's attitude should change.we need guys coming out hard first up...we need REAL WARRIORS

  • Mo on September 12, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    How on earth do you explain a captain calling out the wrong plan after winning the toss, perhaps Alaistair Campbell should be writing out the "Right Thing" to do if the captain wins the toss.

  • Ahsan on September 12, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Why can't they see bowling failure, OK the wicket was flat but they should atleast took two or three wickets while conceding 228 runs & bowling 42 overs. I think it was 70% bowling failure & only 30% batting failure.

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Zim has lots of talent, no one is denying that, the thing they need to do as butcher has said they need to be more braver. they have talent and ability only thing they lack is self confidence once they have it, they will be among one of the better teams in ODI's.

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    masakadza is scoring too slowly.....ervine should get a chance..need to include jarvis in the XI..go Zim go...u can beat Pak....

  • shahid on September 12, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    Win or loose, but I am sure that this Zim team is a much better team than Bangladesh and they are at par with NZ and WI. I think they should have prepared some what faster wickets as they have very good fast bowlers. I agree to Butcher that they just need confidence in playing their shots. There is a very sound talent and potential in this Zim team.

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2011, 20:06 GMT

    I like Zimbabwe team. They have character. Captain is a good cricketer and an inspiring leader. They just need more matches. I regret that top teams like India, Australia and England are reluctant to play against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. I hope these countries remember that when they become a powerhouse. In my opinion these leading teams lack the mettle of being a leader.

  • Andrew on September 11, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    Of course its dissapointing to see us lose like this, but I guess its true to say we are up against one of the top ODI teams, albeit missing a few of their older players. Hard luck guys, you can bounce back next time I am sure, you almost won he first one, so you showed you can compete.

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