Zimbabwe's route back to Test cricket may not have been finalised just yet, but their coach Robin Brown feels the day his side play a Test match again may not be as far away as people imagine.
Despite putting up some late resistance, Zimbabwe were ultimately beaten comfortably, by an innings, in a four-day match against the Patron's XI in Karachi. However Brown, who took over from Kevin Curran as coach in September last year, believes there are enough positives to draw on not just from this match, but other results in recent months.
"Obviously, we're very disappointed at not scoring enough runs and the result," he said after the match. "Every match is a learning curve for us and is an opportunity to learn about different situations and experiences in matches, how to handle them, how to adapt. I'm happy with the way the guys performed."
Zimbabwe voluntarily suspended themselves from Test cricket in 2006 following concerns that their side wasn't competitive enough at the top level, but according to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) they are due to host India for two Tests and three ODIs in May. Though the ICC has to take a decision on their status before they can play Tests again, Brown felt progress had been made.
"We've had some good results in South Africa before this and we take positives from here as well. Test cricket is much harder of course, but we are getting useful experience and I don't think we are too far away from competing on the Test stage," he said.
Brown was also confident that once Zimbabwe become a Test nation again, there is enough talent domestically for them to once again become a competitive side. "There is the depth of talent there. Schools cricket is very strong, the academies are up again and the U-19 sides are doing well. Guys in the team today have progressed from U-19 cricket.
"Now when guys in the team go back to play first-class cricket in Zimbabwe, standards will definitely improve. Cricket will not die in Zimbabwe but it will improve."