We belong! Zimbabwe out to prove to the world | cricket | Hindustan Times
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We belong! Zimbabwe out to prove to the world

Zimbabwe head coach Alan Butcher's comments were repeatedly muted at the press conference in the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Thursday as he inadvertently kept switching off the microphone. However, the former England Test player will hope the performances of his players come through loud and clear at the World Cup. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports.

cricket Updated: Feb 10, 2011 23:02 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

Zimbabwe head coach Alan Butcher's comments were repeatedly muted at the press conference in the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Thursday as he inadvertently kept switching off the microphone.

However, the former England Test player will hope the performances of his players come through loud and clear at the World Cup.

Skipper Elton Chigumbura and his boys have their work cut out to show that the team are beginning to find their feet again at the international stage. The presence of a former England player at the helm of the Zimbabwe team itself indicates a move in the right direction.

The fractious relationship between England and Zimbabwe, its former colony, has often cast a shadow over their meetings in the sporting arena.

The low point was probably reached during the 2003 World Cup in Africa, when Nasser Hussain's England refused to travel to Zimbabwe, to protest against the anti-democratic policies of the Robert Mugabe regime.

The fallout was that Zimbabwe edged out England to enter the Super Sixes, on the basis of points accrued from the walkover.

However, two prominent Zimbabwe players also lodged a silent protest. Andy Flower, who is the current England coach, and fast bowler Henry Olonga, sported black arm bands while playing, "to mourn the death of democracy" in their country.

Olonga and Flower never returned to Zimbabwe and the following years saw a number of other top players drop out of the national team because of better opportunities abroad, the shambolic state of the country's cricket administration, or the aggressive promotion of black players in the team.

However, since going into a self-imposed exile from Test cricket, the country has started rebuilding its domestic cricket structure with prominent former players, some of them out of favour for long, chipping in as administrators or coaches. Alan Butcher, whose son Mark also played for England, is assisted by Heath Streak (bowling coach) and Grant Flower (batting coach).

Brian Lara plays in their domestic T20 league and worked as batting consultant when the World Cup squad prepared in Dubai.

"At the moment, everyone is working very hard, not only in this Zimbabwe squad but in the first-class system," Butcher said. While their modest aim in the World Cup is to "play as well as we can", it will still be a step in the right direction if they can do just that.