Zimbabwe top job for Alan Butcher

ZIMBABWE have appointed the former England batsman Alan Butcher as their new head coach with the target of returning the country to Test cricket in 2011. The appointment of an Englishman is further evidence that this ravaged country is returning to normal after the abandonment last year of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar in favour of the American dollar and South African rand.

Butcher, 56, has been given an unexpected chance at international level after losing his job at Surrey after their relegation from Division One of the LV Championship in 2008. Former Zimbabwe Test players Grant Flower, at the end of the year, and Heath Streak are to work alongside Butcher as specialist batting and bowling coaches, and he will be assisted by Stephen Mangongo. Dave Houghton, another former Test player, has been lined up to assist him during the forthcoming trip to the West Indies.

Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute said: “In the past we have relied on one coach, but this time we have four individuals and are confident they will deliver.”

Zimbabwe withdrew from Test cricket in January 2006 after embarrassing results stemming from a policy of selecting mainly inexperienced black players after the alienation and consequent exit of some many white players. The ICC ruled in 2007 that allowing them to make an early return could risk “undermining the integrity of Test cricket”. But last October former captain Alastair Campbell, now chairman of selectors, confirmed that policy had been abandoned and predicted that they would be ready to play Test cricket again “in two or three years”.

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