Flower backs Zimbabwe Test return
Grant Flower, who has returned to a player/coach role with Zimbabwe after calling time on his career with Essex, believes the country's tabled return to Test cricket next year is coming at the right time. "You just never know if you're not given the opportunity, and I think next year is the right call," Flower told ESPNcricinfo. "It's time to start that process again."
"I'm not sure [if Zimbabwe are ready for Tests], is the honest answer," he said. "But we didn't know if we'd be ready originally, when we were first given Test status. People wrote us off then, and our first class structure then wasn't as good as it is now.
"It was either we sink or swim, to grab a cliché, and we just had to get on with it. We didn't have much depth, but we did alright with it. We got a Test victory probably quicker than any other nation, from what I can recall. Certainly New Zealand and Bangladesh."
Flower, who played in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test against India in 1992, argued that while the current seam attack might initially struggle at Test level the resurgence of the country's first-class structure would stand what would essentially be a fledgling Test side in good stead.
"I think there might still be a few questions about our quick bowling, we don't have too much depth there. In the batting area we've got a bit more depth, more potential, from what I've seen and what I've heard from other people. But our first-class structure is stronger now than it has been in the past, and that can only help."
Zimbabwe's ineffectual pace attack was the most disappointing feature of their winless tour of South Africa in October, and Flower suggested that it was one area which needed particular attention ahead of the World Cup in February next year.
"I think most of the guys are there and thereabouts. I don't think there'll be too many major changes for the World Cup from what I've seen. You've got to back what you're good at, and at the moment our spinners are the main thing.
"But you've got to have some back-up with the seamers, because a lot of teams will see that spin is our main area and attack the spinners, so you've got to have back-up plans. You've got to have guys that can reverse swing the ball. In those sorts of conditions reverse swing plays a big part, so you've got to have seamers that are skilled enough to do that."
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo