Battle of basement nations

HARARE - IT IS becoming increasingly harder to invoke enthusiasm and excitement amongst the international cricketing community when talking about the two lowest ranked teams squaring up regardless of the talent on offer.

In a way, it is understandable, given the amount of times these two teams have played each other.

But, the truth is that despite the lack of enthusiasm, it is of the utmost importance for Zimbabwe to be playing as much international, and, more specifically Test cricket as possible. And, if it means that they have to play Bangladesh on a yearly basis, then so be it.

Bangladesh arrived in the country on Thursday night, and their coach Shane Jurgensen promised a good and competitive series.

Bangladesh have good reason to be confident and self-assured after good performances against the West Indies, and more recently against the star studded Sri Lanka.

Admittedly the Sri Lankan pitches were as flat and as unresponsive as pancakes, but, the Tigers played a positive and exciting brand of cricket against a very experienced and well balanced team.

Several of their players achieved personal milestones, while a number of younger players also made their presence known with some noticeable performances.

This is a clear indication that the young talent in Bangladesh is beginning to come through, although some may say that it is about time when considering the fact that Bangladesh has a population of roughly 150 million people who love and adore cricket.

The Tigers have also done their homework and decided to employ the services of former Pakistan off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to work with their spinners.

Zimbabwe have struggled against spin in all formats of the game for a number of years, and there is no reason for that to change overnight.

This has always been a bit of a mystery when you see the amount of spinners the country has playing first class cricket.

There are seven spinners, who could quite comfortably represent the country, and yet, not one of the batsmen have any real idea of negating the turn and bounce international spinners have on offer.

In order for that to improve, the team needs to be exposed to quality players on a regular basis, but with all the on-going disputes and unwillingness of the players to fully commit, as well as the financial constraints Zimbabwe Cricket find themselves under, there are some who are beginning to wonder how much longer Zimbabwe cricket will be able to stay afloat.

These are all very worrying and real concerns, but, the upside to all the loyal fans is that after a year of silence, both Harare Sports Club and Queens Sports Club, will be reverberating to the sounds of loud music, and cheering and chanting fans.

Zimbabwe may have a psychological advantage over the Tigers in the Test series which gets underway on Wednesday.

The two Tests will be played at Harare Sports Club, which has become a fortress when playing against Bangladesh.

The teams have played each other on three previous occasions in 2001, 2004, and in 2011, with Zimbabwe outplaying Bangladesh on all three occasions.

Although the rest of the cricketing family look down on the likes of these two nations, one can rest assured that some good and competitive cricket will be played.

Bangladesh clearly enjoy themselves when touring Zimbabwe, this is reflected by their enthusiasm to greet Zimbabweans in Shona and making a huge effort to try and learn as much about Zimbabwe and it's culture as possible. - Dean du Plessis

*Dean du Plessis, who was born blind, is a leading Zimbabwean cricket writer and broadcaster who writes regularly for the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday. He can be contacted on:

Skype: dean.du.plessis31

Twitter: @dean_plessis

Mobile: +263772570371

Email: dean.duplessis77@gmail.com

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