New Delhi: Zimbabwe have suffered a series of heavy defeats at the World Cup because the players no longer get a chance to develop their concentration skills in Test matches, coach Alan Butcher said on Sunday.
The African nation pulled out of playing Tests in 2006 after political turmoil caused many of the country`s big names to retire.
Butcher believes Zimbabwe`s self-imposed exile from the five-day format has seriously handicapped his players.
"You used to get a lot of time to bat in Test cricket and that used to translate into one day cricket as well," former Engand batsman Butcher told reporters.
"Your top four players could have batted for a whole or even half a day in Test matches and that allowed them to develop the type of concentration required in the one-day format. They could learn a lot from Test cricket."
The lack of regular exposure against the top nations has resulted in Elton Chigumbura`s side being walloped by Australia (91 runs), thrashed by New Zealand (10 wickets) and routed by Sri Lanka (139 runs) -- and on each occasion they have failed to play out their 50 overs.
Zimbabwe narrowly missed qualifying for the 1996 World Cup semi-finals, coming fifth in the Super Six stage, but in this edition their highest score against the top teams has been 188 -- which is far short of the 300 plus totals being notched up by the title challengers.
"There have been problems in the development of players, development of their techniques, development of their game understanding and that`s being found out playing in the World Cup," explained Butcher.
"We must post a competitive target if we bat first. To be realistic a competitive target for us is to get a minimum of 250 and then we might have a chance against most teams. The recent history suggests we don`t get 300 so often."
During the World Cup, Zimbabwe`s only triumph has been a 175-run win over a Canadian side featuring a motley crew of players including a taxi driver, an engineer, an insurance agent and a 16-year-old student.
In that match they amassed 298-9 and that batting display went some way towards showing what Chigumbura and company are capable of producing if they were competing on a level playing field with the Test nations.
But with their own domestic situation in disarray, Butcher could not complain about the way the players have tried to re-establish themselves on the world stage.
"I can`t fault the way players have tried to put it right," he said. "They work very hard to overcome the problems in scoring runs. But for the players, for myself, for rest of the coaching staff it is very frustrating."