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Houghton laments Zimbabwe’s ‘embarrassingly bad’ defeat

Zimbabwe Head Coach Dave Houghton has bemoaned his side’s woeful start to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier Africa Final 2023, describing their loss to Namibia on Wednesday as “embarrassingly bad”.

He gave the damning post-match assessment after watching his charges slump to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of the tournament hosts at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek.

“I have just spent quite a bit of time in the changeroom with the team after that game and, when you ask what went wrong, as far as I am concerned, we got everything wrong,” Houghton said.

“We were awful today, embarrassingly bad. I think it’s probably one of the worst games that I have ever been associated with in a Zimbabwean jersey,” he added.

“Why it happens, I have absolutely no idea. We train hard, we train with specifics. The guys worked really hard, they had enough energy coming into this game, but we batted poorly and followed that up by bowling poorly and our fielding was average.”

Apart from Zimbabwe and Namibia, the other teams participating in this regional qualifier tournament are Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

All the teams will play against each other in a round-robin format, with the top two sides on the points table qualifying for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 to be co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States of America.

“It’s a terrible start to this tournament, but we do know we’ve got to win the next five games and still qualify,” Houghton lamented after the loss to Namibia.

“That’s important for us, but not my best day and certainly not my happiest day. In fact, I feel like we should be all out here apologising to our fans.”

The head coach said he was not going to make any excuses for his side’s struggles with the bat, insisting that the wicket at the Wanderers was a good batting strip.

“When you are not playing particularly well and when you have lost a little bit of confidence as we have, we see demons in the wicket when we bat, but when we bowl there are no demons in the wicket,” he said.

“So, I looked at that wicket and it looks a good batting strip and I would have thought we would score 170-180 comfortably.

“We gave a lot of wickets away, we were not batting positively, we are batting recklessly at the moment . . . I thought it was really a good batting wicket and they proved it when they chased.”

Houghton said it was important for Zimbabwe to quickly get over the defeat and focus on returning to winning ways, starting with their next qualifier match against Tanzania at the United Cricket Ground in Windhoek on Thursday afternoon.

“We can’t dwell on these losses. It’s important they recognise how bad a loss that was – which is what I have just given them in the changeroom – but it is a quick turnaround and that’s a good thing we can put it all right tomorrow afternoon and get ourselves on the board with a win and then start our march towards qualifying,” he said.

“We can’t sort of rest on our laurels and think we are a bigger side than the rest. We’ve got to turn up and play proper cricket. We didn’t do it today.”