Nevertheless, England had reason to be disappointed with their total with several batsmen losing their wickets cheaply.
The tourists got off to the worst possible start, when Robert Key fell lbw to the third ball of the day without scoring and captain Michael Vaughan followed in the next over for two. Mal Loye tried to stick around but, when he went for 17, having survived for 21 overs, the Zimbabweans' measured bowling was paying dividends.
Windows and Andrew Flintoff (61) changed things around, with the latter dominating the attack with a series of cracking drives. The Lancashire batsman hit 10 fours and a six over long-on during his 57-ball stay at the crease. He eventually mis-hit the off-spinner Dan Peacock to long- on and he was followed three overs later by Windows, who top-edged a sweep to deep square leg.
Chris Read offered stubborn support to Graeme Swann, who was batting with freedom. Read departed caught and bowled by Peacock for 12, while Swann continued to chance his luck. He had hit two sixes and four fours before he perished for 48.
Darren Thomas was caught off a leading edge at mid-on for six, leaving Dean Cosker to help the tail add valuable runs. Jason Lewry made 16 before giving Grant Flower a simple caught and bowled chance and Steve Harmison flung the bat until he was undone for six.
Lewry struck early for England A, getting Senyo Nyakutse for a duck. Grant Flower and Murray Goodwin saw out the remaining overs in a partnership the English bowlers will need to break early today.
The top scorer, Windows, acknowledged the difficulties of changing from one-day to four-day cricket. "The guys have been striking it well in the one-day games, but it was a case of stepping on the brake a little bit and knuckling down to what should have been a longer innings," he said. "If we could have converted the scores that I made and those of Andrew Flintoff and Graeme Swann into bigger innings, we would have got closer to the 350 that we had set our sights on."
First day; England A won toss
ENGLAND A - First Innings
R W T Key b MacKay 0
*M P Vaughan c A Flower b Pswarayi 2
M B Loye c Goodwin b Pswarayi 17
M G Windows c MacKay b G Flower 69
A Flintoff c Nyakutse b Peacock 61
G P Swann c MacKay b Peacock 48
C M W Read c and b Peacock 12
S D Thomas c G Flower b Viljoen 6
D A Cosker not out 28
J D Lewry c and b G Flower 16
S J Harmison b MacKay 6
Total (90.1 overs) 267
Fall: 1-0, 2-2, 3-47, 4-140, 5-162, 6-208, 7-213, 8-225, 9-256.
Bowling: MacKay 14.1-3-33-2; Pswarayi 12-3-57-2; Mbangwa 9-4-23-0; G Flower 16-0-47-2; Peacock 26-7-66-3; Viljoen 13-1-39-1.
PRESIDENT'S XI - First Innings
G W Flower not out 25
S Nyakutse b Lewry 0
M W Goodwin not out 4
Total (for 1) 40
To bat: D P Viljoen, *A Flower, G L Lamb, A J MacKay, D J Peacock, C T Gurr, M Mbangwa, B W S Pswarayi.
Bowling: Lewry 4-2-19-1; Harmison 4-1-16-0; Cosker 2-0-3-0; Swann 1-0- 2-0.
Umpires: K Kanjee and M Esat.Reuse content