"Zimbabwe played very well," Atherton said. "They batted well, very positively and Eddo Brandes bowled a magic spell with the new ball. When you lose three wickets for 20 runs you are struggling to win the match. We played poorly in the one-day internationals and have to rethink our strategy there. But in the Test matches I firmly believe we were the better side in both of these and given a better run with the rain would have come out winners."
Atherton refused to be drawn on his future as captain, saying only he "would see what happens" when his contract runs out at the end of the winter. But he insisted that he - and the rest of the side - were confident about the New Zealand leg of the tour.
"We have got to have confidence in ourselves and we are still confident of doing well in New Zealand," he said. "It has been disappointing to lose here and disappointing to lose 3-0 but we are looking forward to New Zealand, to work hard and improve over there.
"No doubt people back home will be disappointed and upset and I am disappointed and upset - as are the players, but we are looking forward to getting it right in New Zealand."
The former England captain Bob Willis was scathing about England after the match."We are getting pretty desperate now," he said. "This was the watermark for England against Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Zimbabwe are at the bottom of the ladder and England are quickly replacing them. We are fast going down the cricketing plughole here."
The England coach David Lloyd - who also refused to be drawn about his future - stressed the difference between one-day and Test matches, and denied that England had ever underestimated the African side. We have never ever said this was a knock-over outfit," he said. "They played very good, very forceful cricket throughout this one-day series and we perhaps were not up to it."
"We will regroup and come again with confidence. We will not be low when we move on to New Zealand. The players know they have not played to their maximum and they have a great challenge in New Zealand."Reuse content