NATIONAL cricket team batting coach Grant Flower says the batting department’s ability to handle the West Indies’ bowling attack will be crucial as they embark on their first full tour in over a year in the Caribbean, starting next week.
Zimbabwe’s batsmen have struggled in alien conditions in the past, most recently in New Zealand where they struggled to handle the pace of the likes of Black Caps paceman Chris Martin and Doug Bracewell.
In fact, it was the same case in Zimbabwe’s last tour of the West Indies in 2010 where the batsmen could simply also not handle raw pace offered by Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach and the swing and accuracy of Darren Sammy.
While this time around West Indies’ obvious strength might lie in their batting which boasts of Chris Gayle, Flower believes their bowling needs equal attention.
Flower, who will remain behind when the team leaves for the Caribbean today following Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC)’s controversial decision to cut support coaching staff from tours, said a lot of hard work had been put to ensure that the batsman are well equipped to deal with the hosts’ pace attack.
“The boys have been training hard and preparations have gone well. Basically, we have put in a lot of work with the batsmen to make sure they are able to handle the West Indies’ pace bowling.
“Obviously their fast bowlers are not as quick as the great West Indies sides of the past, but they are reasonably fast and we have tried to make sure that the boys know what to expect and are well equipped.
“To counter this we have been working with the batsmen’s ability to deal with short pitched deliveries, their footwork in the crease as well as the mental aspect. They also have some quality spinners such as Narine, who can be dangerous and we have taken that into consideration.
“As part of the preparations, we have also been studying the recent footage of the West Indies and tried to identify some of the areas where we can exploit and take advantage of,” said Flower.
Flower, however, said he would have loved to have skipper Brendan Taylor and experienced batsman Hamilton Masakadza, who are expected to fly straight to the West Indies from the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League, in training.
“It’s obviously a bit disappointing that we haven’t had time to prepare with them also, but at least they are playing some regular cricket in the T20 competition where they are now.
Zimbabwe will play the West Indies in three ODIs, two Twenty20s and two Tests, starting on February 20 in what will be coach Alan Butcher’s last tour in charge before his contract expires.