Race row a distraction: Butcher

HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket coach Alan Butcher admitted yesterday that a bitter race row which erupted in the game had been a distraction in the build-up to the upcoming West Indies tour, but said the team was now focusing on action on the field.

Zimbabwean cricket walked into a racial storm at the beginning of the year after a directive by Sports minister David Coltart on the composition of the selection panel drew fierce criticism and accusations of racism from some quarters in the cricket fraternity.

With the dust not yet settled, the team yesterday resumed preparations ahead of the tour, minus several players currently involved in local and overseas domestic competitions.

The Zimbabweans will play three ODIs, two Twenty20s and two Tests in the Caribbean between February 20 and March 20, and Butcher said the run-up to the tour had been different from usual.

“It wasn’t ideal; I think they were some allegations made in the press that were untrue,” Butcher told the Daily News yesterday.

“We chose to remain quiet as the technical staff, we spoke about it this morning with the players and have put it behind us.”

Zimbabwe last played international cricket at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last September, and Butcher hopes the team will not repeat the disastrous performances exhibited in that tournament.

“Well, I hope that we perform better than we did at the World Cup, win a couple of matches and salvage our pride as an able cricket-playing nation come the Caribbean tour.”

Meanwhile, 12 players attended yesterday’s training session, which focused on the mental aspect of the game.

National team players involved in Logan Cup matches which began yesterday were allowed to turn out for their franchises.

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