Alan Butcher, the Zimbabwe coach, has said his players were embarrassed by their loss inside three days to New Zealand in Napier. Zimbabwe were bowled out twice on the third day of the Test, and lost by an innings and 301 runs, slumping to their lowest Test total, 51, in the process.
"They [the players] were embarrassed in the dressing-room and they should have been," Butcher told Fairfax News. "They all felt we let ourselves down badly and that we hadn't given a good account of ourselves."
Zimbabwe have performed creditably in Tests since returning from a six-year self-imposed exile last August. They beat Bangladesh in their comeback Test and then pushed New Zealand till deep into the fifth day in Bulawayo in November. The Napier Test was their first on foreign soil for six years and though Butcher knew it would be hard, he expected his team to at least last all five days.
"Regardless of how the result had gone, it wasn't going to be easy for us to play a Test away from home, having been out of Test cricket for some time," he said, "but we hoped we would at least provide five days of competitive cricket. We got nowhere near that."
The Zimbabweans had fared well in the warm-up match, against a New Zealand XI in Gisborne; their batsmen built a total of 329 to give them a first-innings lead. The sudden slide in form between that game and the Test match was something Butcher said he could not understand.
"It was disappointing. It bore no relation to how we've been practising and how we've played in recent times. Not only the batting on Saturday, but I thought we didn't bowl particularly well on the first day. All around I think we were below par and New Zealand played well and took full advantage.
"With the bat we played at a lot of wide balls and we played across straight balls. We didn't do things that we've been doing pretty well. It's difficult to know why we should collapse collectively, twice, with the exception of Regis [Chakabva] who played very well and showed you could make runs. They did bowl some bad balls that we could score from."
Zimbabwe will now travel to Dunedin for the first of three ODIs, which will be followed by two Twenty20 internationals. When New Zealand toured Zimbabwe in October last year, Zimbabwe managed to win the last of the three ODIs by chasing 329. Butcher said they needed to replicate that kind of performance.
"That will be in their [New Zealand's] minds; to know we can compete in a much better fashion than we did in the Test match. We've got to. If we keep losing like that, then we'll find ourselves back where we were five or six years ago."