Test status excites Zimbabwe coach

Zimbabwe’s Craig Ervine dives to hold a catch offered by coach Alan Butcher (C) during a training session at the Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata. Zimbabwe play Kenya in their group A 2011 Cricket World Cup match 41 on Sunday.

Kolkata: Mar 20, 2011

Coach Alan Butcher said Saturday that a return to Test cricket after six years away from the circuit will be “massive” for Zimbabwe, as they prepare to end their exile in August.

“Our return to Test cricket is happening in August against Bangladesh. And 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,” the English coach said. But Butcher admitted the team, who last played a Test match in 2005, would face a steep learning curve.

“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’.” He said Zimbabwe would face a similar challenge to that of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who both faced a tough baptism in Test cricket. “The only place to learn to play Test cricket is actually by doing that. There is no other place that can prepare you for that.

“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 cricket has advanced in the past two years after going through a chaotic period during which many of the leading players rebelled against the administration, culminating in the country voluntarily withdrawing from Tests.

Butcher named Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu, Raymond Price and Graeme Cremer as important players, adding: “I think there are five or six players who will definitely be part of the future.” A day ahead of their final World Cup match against Kenya, the coach said Zimbabwe needed to back up their tight spin bowling with a solid batting display in Kolkata.

“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 said. “Our spin bowling has done a fantastic job.” Both the African nations are already out of contention for a place in the quarter-finals. Zimbabwe have just two points after a win over Canada and Kenya have none.