Longway to Go Before We are Back at 1999 Level: Zimbabwe Coach

Chennai, Feb 10 (IANS): Zimbabwe hope to get their cricket, torn asunder by political upheavals in the past decade, back on track at the 2011 World Cup by at least reaching the quarter-finals.

Back in 1999, during the World Cup in England, Zimbabwe, spearheaded by the Flower brothers Grant and Andy, caused a buzz with victories against India and South Africa, besides Kenya, en route to the Super Sixes stage before crashing out of the tournament.

From that high, Zimbabwe's cricketing fortunes touched rock-bottom in the wake of political developments, and retirement or migration of its top players.

"We are in the process of a turnaround. The team has been through difficult times, but there is still a long way to go before we can say that we are back at that level (1999)," said coach Alan Butcher at a media conference here Thursday.

The Zimbabwe team, led by Elton Chigumbura, arrived here Wednesday night and is scheduled to play a warm-up game against South Africa Saturday prior to their group opener against Australia Feb 21 at Ahmedabad.

Butcher said there were no targets fixed for his team, but a strong performance in the group matches could well carry them into the quarter-finals.

"Our target is to play as well as we can and if we do so, it will be a step forward for the team and if we win a few games, we can reach the quarter-finals."

Butcher said the Zimbabwe players were not exactly unfamiliar to the conditions in the sub-continent, having played a lot of cricket in Bangladesh.

"Most of our players have played in Bangladesh in the recent times and the conditions there are similar to those in India. We have been playing a few matches in Dubai before coming here and tried to simulate conditions similar to those in India."

Skipper Chigumbura said the presence of former West Indian batting star Brian Lara as a consultant was a great help to the team in their preparations. Lara, who plays in the Zimbabwe T20 competition, had joined the team in Dubai for the training sessions.

"Our preparations have been good. We had some training in Dubai and the players are keen to express themselves at the World Cup," Chigumbura said.


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Title: Longway to Go Before We are Back at 1999 Level: Zimbabwe Coach

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