PAARL – Zimbabwe cricket coach Heath Streak said on Tuesday he wanted his players to play “winning cricket” when they meet South Africa in a one-off day-night Test next week.
“We'd rather lose trying to play a winning brand of cricket than just compete,” said Streak of a Test South Africa are expected to win comfortably.
“The main thing is belief and shaking off that underdog mentality we had,” he said in Paarl, the western Cape town where Zimbabwe begin a three-day warm-up match against a South African Invitation team on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe have played just ten Tests since they last met South Africa in Harare in August 2014, losing nine and drawing one.
“It's well documented how little Test cricket we play,” said Streak. “I think for us it's less about the type of cricket than about playing at international level.
“Whether it's playing Tests or one-day internationals, it's the gaps in between that are the biggest challenge for us.”
The contest with South Africa will be Zimbabwe's first day-night Test and captain Graeme Cremer admitted: “We haven't played with a pink ball and we haven't played a lot under lights.”
Cremer said this week's day-night match at Boland Park was a crucial part of his team's preparation for the Test.
“We've had two sessions under lights to see how it (the pink ball) reacts,” said Cremer. “At twilight, when it's starting to get dark a little more seems to happen off the wicket. “This warm-up game will give us a good idea of what to expect and there will be lots of discussion before the Test.”
Both Streak and Cremer are looking forward to playing in the first scheduled four-day Test in more than four decades.
“The so-called bigger teams will probably have to score a bit quicker and give the lesser teams more opportunities to take wickets. The game will move a lot quicker, I think,” said Cremer.
@ZimCricketv coach Heath Streak: "We'd rather lose playing a winning brand than just competing. We'll have challenges especially in the longer format because we don't play that much but from what I see this team is going places and will continue to grow and get better." #Presser pic.twitter.com/vuHTER7Rsp
Streak said that with 98 overs a day instead of the usual 90, there would be plenty of time to achieve results.
“With 98 overs a day, it makes it a four-and-a-half day Test and the twilight conditions will be more challenging for batters,” he said.
Cremer said Zimbabwe needed to play consistently well throughout a Test match and avoid the off periods that have cost them previous series.
“We tend to lose Test matches in a certain period, say in an afternoon or in one day of the Test match.
“But we've played a lot of good cricket. It's usually been the first innings with the batting that we have struggled so we're hoping to change that.”