Zimbabwe news February 20, 2010

Alan Butcher appointed Zimbabwe coach

Alan Butcher, the former England batsman and father of former international Mark Butcher, has been appointed the new national coach of Zimbabwe, replacing Walter Chawaguta, who had been in the post since August 2008.

Butcher, 56, will be helped by Zimbabwe's coaching assistant Stephen Mangongo, batting coach Grant Flower and bowling coach Heath Streak. His first assignment will be the tour of the Caribbean next month. "In the past we have relied on one coach, but this time we have four individuals and are confident they will deliver," Ozias Bvute, Zimbabwe Cricket's managing director, said in Harare.

Streak has been with the side as bowling coach since August last year, while Flower, 39, will only take up his position at the end of the coming English domestic season after seeing out his contract with Essex.

"At the end of this season it will probably signal the end of my playing career and I do not want to have any regrets," said Flower. "I start my new role with Zimbabwe in October and have the main objective of helping them reach Test status once again. At the end of this season I aim to complete my Level 4 coaching course".

Although Chawaguta had been in situ for 18 months he never appeared to have the full backing of the board. At the beginning of 2009 Zimbabwe Cricket announced it was readvertising the post but a lack of credible alternatives led to him keeping his job. When the role was again put up for grabs at the end of the year the writing was on the wall. With a raised sense of normality surrounding Zimbabwe cricket, the board had a greater choice.

It was widely reported at the tail end of last year that Streak was the preferred candidate, but the board has opted to bring in someone from overseas. That it went for Butcher will raise more than a few eyebrows. His last position was at Surrey where he left after a wretched season in 2008 when they failed to win one Championship match and were relegated from the top flight. He has little international experience having played a single Test and ODI for England as a left-hand opening batsman in 1980.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa