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March 19, 2011
Alan Butcher, Zimbabwe's coach, has said the team's return to Test cricket, scheduled for August 2011, after six years of self-imposed exile will be "massive" for the team.
"Our return to Test cricket is happening in August against Bangladesh," Butcher told AFP on the eve of Zimbabwe's last match of the on-going World Cup. "I think after that Pakistan and New Zealand come to Zimbabwe to play one Test each and some ODIs. That's going to be a massive thing for Zimbabwe."
After withdrawing from Tests in September 2005, Zimbabwe have struggled in ODIs, having won only 32 out of 107 matches in that time, with just five of those victories coming against Test playing nations apart from Bangladesh. Butcher said he was aware it would not be an easy road back into Test cricket for his side.
"No doubt you might be wondering if we are going to be up for the challenge and the answer to that, honestly, is probably no. The only place to learn to play Test cricket is by actually doing that. There is no other place that can prepare you. So obviously we will be doing all that we can but I will be surprised if we can come out of it without some beatings in the initial stages. But I hope the players can learn from the experience."
Zimbabwe have struggled in the World Cup so far, having lost four out of their five matches. They take on Kenya in their final match on Sunday, at Eden Gardens, and Butcher is hoping for an improved performance. He had earlier pointed to Zimbabwe's exile from Tests as one of the reasons his batsmen were struggling to play long innings and continued to stress that batting had been the team's weakness
"Our spin bowling has done a fantastic job, but our batting has been a disappointment. We have not given our spin attack enough chances to win us games. We've scored runs in the past, but it has just not worked out [this time]."
Butcher had also stressed on the importance of developing new talent when Zimbabwe re-enter the Test arena, but he did mention Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu, Ray Price and Graeme Cremer from the current crop of players as being important to the teams' future. Zimbabwe's opponents on Sunday, Kenya, have had their own problems through the World Cup, losing all their games so far. But Butcher said Zimbabwe wouldn't be taking anything for granted.
"We are making sure we do our homework and ensure that we give them [Kenya] as much respect as we gave other, big teams."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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