Zimbabwe cricket September 9, 2009

Tests the ultimate goal for Zimbabwe - Houghton


Dave Houghton hopes to play a major role in returning Zimbabwe to the Test arena as he prepares to head back to his homeland and take up a position with the board. Houghton, the former Zimbabwe captain, has made a home in England but has been out of coaching since leaving Derbyshire in 2007 and is expected to take up a senior role in the Zimbabwe set-up.

"I'm not quite sure what it will entail yet," Houghton told Cricinfo, "but it will be nice to go back to Zimbabwe. I was born there and played there for many years so it would be good to have a role in bringing the game back."

Zimbabwe suspended themselves from Test cricket in 2005, after being unable to field a competitive side following the mass exodus of players, and are currently playing four-day cricket in the Intercontinental Cup alongside one-day internationals. Houghton, who was Zimbabwe's first Test captain and scored 1464 runs at 43 during his 22-match career, believes it is a realistic aim for the country to return to the fold, but they need to play sustained, good-quality first-class cricket.

"I definitely think so, they are desperate to return to Test level," he said. "At the moment I see them as being at the level they were before we got Test status. In my view they are better than the Associates, but not quite up to Test standard yet so are in limbo.

"Test cricket is the ultimate goal, Zimbabwe need to get back into the Test arena and the hierarchy out there will have their own ideas, so it would be wrong of me to second guess their plans," he added. "However, the crucial point is to have meaningful first-class cricket and these new franchises that have been formed will hopefully help that."

Houghton is one of a number of former players returning to aid Zimbabwe with Heath Streak lined up as head coach while Alistair Campbell, another former captain, is expected to take up a batting role. Andy Flower, Zimbabwe's best batsman, has been lost to the country and is forging a strong reputation with England, so Houghton knows it's important they make use of as many of their former players as possible.

"We are the ones with expertise and knowledge and there are others who I hear are interested to come back as well," he said. "It would be a waste not to involve us in the cricket with all the years we have played. We need to get good coaches involved and also get matches against A sides and maybe counties. That was a very important part of our evolution when we were first getting Test status and it would good to see them come back."

And he still believes some of the players who had quit a threadbare side may yet return to the fold in the coming months and years. "The door is never closed on anyone. I hear Dion Ebrahim [the opening batsman] is interested in coming back. Zimbabwe Cricket can open the door for them to come back, but it's also pleasing to see that there is a crop of youngsters coming up who have been through the tough times."

Despite moving his life to England and developing strong coaching credentials alongside some TV commentary work, Houghton has kept in close touch with Zimbabwe's performances. He still has many strong links to the country, while the slowly improving situation has given him cause for optimism about the future.

"England is now home, but I've been following their scores closely, it's good to see them playing regularly again," he said. "There are a number of reasons I'm heading back, I still have family and property out there. I hear from a lot of people that things have picked up on the ground. Switching from the Zimbabwe dollar to US dollar has helped quell the hyper-inflation so hopefully things are looking up."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jason on September 11, 2009, 11:19 GMT

    one true fact is even after the rebels the log standings of the Zimabwe team havent changed that much , so i just think that the rebels should remain rebels , all zim needs is just quality coaching, not people who decide tto quit coz they dont like their goverment, so much for patroitism, why are they coming back its still the same goverment,,,

  • Zimitha on September 11, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    I am delighted that guys are coming back home to assist. I am a black Zimbabwean &a great fan of cricket. I have followed it for 20 years and played a bit. My advice to these guys; fight the devil from within. There is no doubt that the current admin is fleecing ZC,we're not fooled. Be right there next to them, & that on its own will be a deterrent. I still believe that if Streak & the guys had not left, the fleecing would have been lower. The boys have improved, and they need experienced people to guide them to better heights. Its a shame that the past 2 Ashes wins for the English have been thru Zim coaches while we struggle. When you are back in the fold, please respect us; black, indian, coloured, white. I am saying this because i have been disrespected at Queens because i am black. Further to this, be diplomatic, u know what u want to achieve (success 4e team) & the obstacles (political). Try and work within the current setup. Things are changing &soon the country will be good.

  • Kyle on September 10, 2009, 22:59 GMT

    RameshSubramaniam, Gangas? Not sure there was ever a ganga for zim, maybe u mean mbangwa? west indies had a darren ganga. but i think the future is looking better for zim cricket. the current minister for education and sport, david coltart, is a huge cricket fan, wouldnt be surprised if he looked into revamping the hierarchy at zim cricket

  • jason on September 10, 2009, 19:52 GMT

    no equipment was stolen, its all there, there is no guarantee all these former players will fit into the team,, The good thing is cricket is now for everyone , and not just for the white guys and Henry Olonga, Dave Houghton good on you mate

  • lucy on September 10, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    It's not much use for the old players to return to help Zim cricket when Chingoka et al have stolen all the money for equipment and grounds maintenance.

  • lucy on September 10, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    It is wonderful news that more of the top old players & coaches are interested in helping out Zimbabwe - but this has never been the real problem. When and how are the Chingokaites going to get in the way? When is some politician going to say, "Hey, wait a minute, we can't have whites interfering in Zimbabwe cricket" and then kick them out?

    Also, what about infrastructure? Bats, balls, bails, pads, ground maintenance - they all cost money. The ICC gave ZC millions of dollars (US - in Zim dollars it would be trillions) which mysteriously disappeared. Does ZC have any money left for equipment? Good intentions are all very well, but it sounds like the underlying problems still remain.

  • Jonathan on September 10, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    The Goodwins, the Flowers, Neil Johnson, Heath Streak... Such "Qulality" players use to play this game for Zimbabwe and were COMPETITIVE at any level... Now its sad to see such a sorry story !!

  • Randika on September 10, 2009, 8:17 GMT


    The traits you highlighted above are not ones that I wouldn't associate with Bangladesh either with due respect to them. But I really liked the Zim outfit at the time they ran into the debacle, some inspiring cricket was being played by them at the time. Its time ZC take the right call and bring back the past greats to help the country recover from this lean patch. All the best to them

  • Pamela on September 10, 2009, 6:57 GMT

    This is the best news I have heard all year about my fellow countrymen. Let's hope this pans out well and everyone helps in rebuilding the Zimbabwean team we were once proud to support!!

  • ramesh on September 10, 2009, 6:44 GMT

    If the likes of Johnsons, Goodwins, Gangas, Carsliles can return to zimbawaen cricket, no wonder,they can be better than Bangladesh and West Indies at current state.

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