Zimbabwe news March 19, 2011

Test return excites Zimbabwe coach

ESPNcricinfo staff

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Austen on March 22, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    I think that Zimbabwe will never regret their decision to play test cricket, but it will be a VERY long time before they become a competitive international test nation. Good on ya Alan Butcher :)

  • Andrew on March 22, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    @tfjones1978 - whilst I am a mucher bigger fan of 50/50 over 20/20, ODIs need to be reduced. I would suggest the simple formulae in a bilateral series (something I'd actually do away with in favour of tri-lateral), is if the amount of ODIs must = the amount of Tests played, & T20s restricted to just 1 match in a tour.

    @ immortalsidu - poor idea to demote the Bangas. They've come along way, they should not of been promoted when they were, & should not have gotton as many games as they did until their 1st class structure & talent scouting improved, which has now improved. Tamim & Shakib are world class players & Rahim, Razzak & Mahmudullah I believe are at say a Test journeyman level, not top class but not bad. Thats half the team is good enough to play Test cricket, with others like Siddique, Nafees & Kayes, & Shafiful improving. The Bangas population base means that talent is there & if they can pick up another couple of Class players they could be a force.

  • Andrew on March 22, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    @ tfjones1978 - yeah I like that type of set up, some of that already exists but the actual pathway & KPIs don't exist & it would seem any promotion to Test level is ad hoc. As far as the top structures, I have said I'd like a 3-tier Test structure, where the top 5 sides play each other over 4/5 test series, the 2nd tier (4 teams) plays the top tier over 2/3 tests series & amongst themselves over 4+ Tests. The next group would be Zim, Ireland, Afghan, Scotland & Netherlands. They'd play each other in Test conditions but NOT in a classified Test, (except when Zim or Ireland are involved). The bottom rung can play 1 off tests with the 2nd tier teams, (may allow Zim & Ireland to play 2/3 tests). I'd have it that when a team from a higher tier plays a lower tier, the tests are played over 3 tests when the top team is away & 2 Tests when they are home, giving a slight head to head advantage. Trouble is squeezing this into 4yrs, I think it needs to be a 5yr cycle!

  • ZCF on March 21, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    It is important for people to realise that the team zim sent to the WC is far from being the best hence negative views should be made with caution. Apart from Eoin Morgan Ireland had their best side whereas Zim can still hope to have from overseas - Anthony Ireland, Sean Ervine&Colin de Grandhomme. Locally Gary Ballance might make himself available, while Hamilton Masakadza, Gavin Ewing & Duffin will be back in contention. I don't mean to get ahead of myself but a full strength Zim would destroy Bangladesh, Ireland & Afghanistan. Not to mention being on par with NZ&WI.

  • Bryton on March 21, 2011, 10:47 GMT

    PS if ZIm and Bangladesh are test material, so is Irealand. If congestion is a problem have a 3 tier system, India, SA, Aus, Eng, SL in top tier, NZ, Pak, WI, Ban, Zim, Ire in the next, then the Associates, have a 3 or 5 year cycle with promotion of top team and demotion of the bottom team at end of each cycle.

  • Bryton on March 21, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    ...and another small problem I have, this imagined relationship between test and ODI. There is a reason Mathew Hoggard (one of England's best test bolwers) and Alister Cook (a legend in the making if he continues) do not play test cricket. This is the same reason Duffin and Sibanda for Zim are Test and not ODI players. Test requires a different mindset, application, skill and patience. So I'm slightly confused when people say Zim would have done better in the WC if they were playing test cricket. What I think would have helped, was more tours, to get to know different conditions and better opposition. Zim used to play test before 2004, and still did poorly.

  • Bryton on March 21, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    I totally support the notion of having A teams tour Zim, Bangladesh, Ireland (and maybe Afganistan), maybe have NZ, WI and Pakistan also play these countries to allow growth. As is they will not improve, as e.g. Zim is too strong for the associates (As evidenced in the just finished associate 4 day competition, which the Zim A almost won, had Scotland not refused to play in Zim), but Zim is too weak for the other test teams. So a gradual step up would help, e.g. mini league with the weaker test teams (WI, Bang, NZ) and A teams of the stronger teams (Eng, AUs, SA, SL, Ind). Maybe have a 3 yr cycle to review progress.

  • Sayyed Azhar on March 21, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    @John-Price: Good point - having aspiring test nations play matches against A-teams of the more established test playing teams is a better way to bring those teams along in their development. It will not only make the new entrants more competitive but also help keep test matches and records more meaningful.

  • david on March 20, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    It is a good thing for Zimbabwe as well as International Cricket.But the Zimbabweans have to be brave and not get disheartened if they suffer early loses. They start their tests by playing Bangladesh which are a regular test playing country like NZ,Pak. No offence to Elton but i dont think he will be able to lead the side effectively as most of th players including him lack experience in the 5 day format. Tatenda Taibu is the only one whom I think will be able to lead the side.He was the Capt. in their last test match so I think he will be the only one eligible.

  • Joe on March 20, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    Oh here we go again, the might of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh telling us how Ireland are not good enough to play test cricket. Wake up guys I have news for you, it seems that neither are you.

    Where are your under 15's and your under 19's? Ireland's are european champions at both.

    And the old circular argument from Butcher that we will get better when we play more test nations, do you not think the same would apply to Ireland?

    Ireland are not ready for tests yet, I admit but if they were getting the same 25-30 ODI's a year against the best then they would improve rapidly they already out field both Bangla and Zim, and when the young pace bowlers come into the team they will out bowl them as well.

  • No featured comments at the moment.