But why not, when they are about to enter a tri-nations series with two relatively young teams, far less experienced than them in terms of international caps?
Fine, the players in these Indian and Sri Lankan teams are the next big stars in their countries and they are by no means weak, but facts are stubborn: Zimbabwe are the most experienced team of the three.
When he embarked on his maiden tour of duty to the Caribbean for the ICC World Twenty20, Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher remarked that it was hard to evaluate the team at this unconventional form of the game.
Butcher said the tri-nations, which begin today with a match between Zimbabwe and India, will provide the real test of character for his team.
He was reminded about it yesterday during a pre-series press conference at the team’s hotel.
“Thanks for reminding me, but I’d forgotten I said that,” he responded. “It’s difficult to walk in after two weeks and judge a team at Twenty20. I wouldn’t have been fair. But yes, now is the right time (to evaluate the team).”
Zimbabwe have very few options in this series. They must reach the final, win the trophy, or play sufficiently well enough to show progress and readiness for Test cricket.
Butcher concurred when he was asked about his goals for the series.
“Get in the final and win it,” he said. “(But) we are always talking about the process to get to those positions. We got to be able to say ‘we did the right thing, the process was right’. If you do that, have enough quality, winning will take care of itself.”
Talking to journalists at the same function, new captain Elton Chigumbura once again dismissed fears that his new responsibility will affect his personal game.
In fact, Chigumbura said, his aggressive style could rub off his teammates.
“Definitely I won’t change my approach,” he said. “I will keep playing my way, which has always been positive. By doing so, it will also make the players more positive.”
Chigumbura hinted that Zimbabwe could abandon their all-out spin attack in favour of more pace options.
The reason for doing that can be found in between the conditions at Queens Sports Club and the Asian teams’ adeptness to spin bowling.
“Last time we played here (at Queens Sports Club) there was a little bit of grass in the wicket. I don’t think it will turn that much this time around, whether batting first or second.”
India captain, Suresh Raina, said his young team is taking the series as an opportunity to show their worth.
“It’s an important series to us,” Raina said. “It’s a good challenge for the players to execute their play.”
Raina, who is standing in for regular captain Mohammed Singh Dhoni, said his players were enjoying their stay in the country so far.
“The Zimbabwean people
have been kind to us,” he said. “We’ve been given good facilities I’m looking forward to good cricket.”
Sri Lanka also sent a second-string side. They are led on the tour by all-rounder Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made both his Test and ODI debuts here in Bulawayo 11 years ago.
Enock Muchinjo in Bulawayo