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Zimbabwe set sight on return to Test

Zimbabwe's participation in the World Twenty20 will provide an opportunity for the country's players to showcase an improving cricket situation in their politically fraught nation.

cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2010 00:14 IST
AFP
Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's participation in the World Twenty20 will provide an opportunity for the country's players to showcase an improving cricket situation in their politically fraught nation.

Zimbabwe have not played a Test match since September 2005, although they have continued to play at one-day and Twenty20 international level.

The country withdrew from the Test arena in 2006 at a time of turmoil in the domestic game, which was coupled with increasing political pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government.

At the time, it seemed cricket in Zimbabwe was in terminal decline. Many of the country's leading players quit in protest and there appeared to be deep racial divisions after leading all-rounder Heath Streak was fired as captain in 2004.

His successor, Tatenda Taibu, also became embroiled in a dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), the country's controlling body.

Before that, Zimbabwe were co-hosts of the 2003 World Cup with South Africa, but England forfeited their match rather than travel to the country, while Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands in protest against the political situation and effectively went into exile.

ICC chairman David Morgan will lead a delegation to Zimbabwe in June and the prospects for a return to Test cricket within the next two years will be on the agenda.

Houghton, captain when Zimbabwe first played Test cricket in 1992, believes a return to the top level is achievable.

"The squad is making rapid progress and having Alan Butcher in charge will make a huge difference," says Houghton.