The England coach, said: "Zimbabwe have committed players playing in front of their own people. I think they were up for it more than our players. That's a hard thing to say - but I've just said it.
"Will I get that message across? Don't you worry about it.
"Today's result was very disappointing, and it is always hard to take when you lose. We must learn to concentrate for every ball - that's for 600 deliveries in one-day matches like these.
"These players are in a position to put it right and they have a responsibility for the way they play on the pitch.
"We have a lot of hard work to do. We must learn not to switch off on occasions and we will only get things right by working hard.
"Last summer we beat India and Pakistan in one-day series, but now we have lost two games here and we need to play better than we have done when we go abroad."
The captain, Mike Atherton, who had made 25, was looking to show that the decision to drop himself down the order to No 5 was paying dividends. "We would have won the game if John [Crawley] and I had stayed together," Atherton said. "But then I put a long hop down long-on's throat.
"I don't think we bowled that well today, even though we had them 40 for 4 at one stage. We also gave away 20 extras and that's naive. I felt there were a few periods where we gave it away.
"Zimbabwe played well and deserved their victory. I'm disappointed to lose ."
Atherton came in for strong criticism from the former England fast bowler and captain Bob Willis, who said the current England captain had become an embarrassment to his country after this defeat.
Willis, in Harare as a TV commentator, said: "Atherton should come in as opener or he should not play. It is becoming an embarrassment to England."
Alistair Campbell, the Zimbabwe captain, was understandably jubilant at taking the series with one match still to play - which is tomorrow's final match of England's tour. He said: "It's hard to put this feeling into words. It hasn't really sunk in yet.
"We knew we were capable of doing it and now we have shown the cricket world that we are able to compete at top level.
"We have some very good individual players in our side. Look at the way Paul Strang bowled today."
Campbell, who usually suffers the embarrassment of leading the world's weakest nation, said he was not used to being treated as a hero.
"Our public thought we were rubbish a couple of months ago," he said. "I used to get ear-bashed so much when I went out that in the end I stopped going to pubs. I had to walk out on several occasions."