ZIMBABWE’S senior men’s cricket team coach Dave Houghton expects a tough battle when they take on the West Indies in the first Test at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawayo from Saturday.
The Zimbabwe team held their first training session in Bulawayo the day before yesterday ahead of the two-Test series against the West Indies.
In the white ball series against Ireland in Harare, 9 players who participated in that match against Ireland will be included in the test team along with the six players who played in the recently concluded Zimbabwe XI and Windies practice match.
Houghton said that in view of the lack of experience between the two sides, a tough challenge is expected from the West team. However, he is optimistic they will give their all on the pitch to compete.
“These games are very tough games for us, we are playing against a very skilled opponent and the gulf in expertise and experience is huge but that doesn’t mean we go in without any confidence, we have our tactics, we have the way that we want to play against them, we are playing at home and I expect us to be out there competing against them ball by ball throughout this Test series.”
This will be Houghton’s first Test assignment in white-ball cricket since taking over as Zimbabwe’s head coach in the middle of last year, and he believes this will be a real opportunity to go one-on-one against the opposition.
He also says he hopes to see a large crowd come out to support the Chevrons.
“It would be great to see the crowds turn out in numbers and I hope we can entertain them.”
Zimbabwe enters the fray without the services of Test captain Sean Williams, who is suffering from a finger injury. All-rounders Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl will also be missing from the red-ball series after being allowed to go overseas to play franchise T20 cricket, while the experience of Craig Irwin and Gary Ballance will come in handy.
Zimbabwe and West Indies are set to face off in the longer version of the competition for the first time since 2017 at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawayo, with the first five-day match being played from February 4-8. The second match is scheduled to be held at the same venue from February 12 to 16.
Zimbabwe have played against each other 10 times since 2000, and the first clash between the two in Test cricket was in March 2000 with Zimbabwe.
The match was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. Zimbabwe were set a target of just 99 runs and a batting line-up of Andy Flower, Neil Johnson, Murray Goodwin, and Alistair Campbell were bowled out for 63 runs in 47 overs as the West Indies won by 35 runs.