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BRIDGETOWN: Zimbabwe’s stuttering return to Test cricket continues in Barbados today when they start their first series in more than seven years against West Indies.
Zimbabwe ended a six-year hiatus from Test cricket two years ago but have played just four single Tests over the last 19 months, leaving them with sparse experience ahead of the Caribbean trip.
The two-Test series against the Windies is their first since India toured Zimbabwe in September 2005 after which a player dispute over political interference led to a rapid decline in their fortunes.
The opening encounter in Bridgetown is followed by a second Test in Dominica, starting on March 20. It is the last for Zimbabwe under coach Alan Butcher, who departs his post after the trip, leaving the team’s future direction unclear.
Captain Brendan Taylor was critical last month of a decision to leave home several key support staff from the tour party, including batting coach Grant Flower and bowling coach Heath Streak.
The West Indies will not be easing up on Zimbabwe despite their relatively easy success in the preceding limited overs series, head coach Ottis Gibson has warned.
The regional side encountered little resistance as they blew away the Zimbabweans 2-0 in the Twenty20 series and also swept the three-match One-Day International series.
With the first Test of the two-match series bowling off in a matter of days, Gibson said he expected his side to take fresh guard.
“The interesting thing is we play three different formats with some new players coming in, so hopefully those players will bring a new focus,” Gibson told a media conference yesterday.