Spinners still good for Zim

HARARE - Despite the careful preparation leading up to the tour of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe's batsmen still found the Bangladeshi left arm spinners too hot to handle as they went 1-0 down in the three match Test series.

Granted, Zimbabwe made Bangladesh work for every run in Bangladesh's second innings, which is exactly how it should be when defending any total, big or small.

But the fact of losing inside three days is still a bitter pill to swallow, regardless of how close the result was, and of how hard Bangladesh had to work to score a paltry 101 runs to win.

Losing a Test inside three days is never nice, and the sad reality is that it would appear as if the batsmen learnt very little from the spinning clinic that was conducted before Zimbabwe left for Bangladesh.

There were, however, some positives to come out of the first Test, regardless of the result, the fielding was the highlight of the highlights package, players were seen throwing their bodies around in the outfield, reminding the commentators of the team of the 90s, who to a certain extent, set the benchmark for quality fielding.

When Zimbabwe took to the field for their first Test match against India back in 1992, coach John Hampshire made it clear that Zimbabwe may not have been blessed with an abundance of batting, they certainly didn't have any threatening bowlers, but there would be no excuse for poor fielding.

The team accepted Hampshire's challenge with relish, and applied themselves with enthusiasm, without the aid of video footage, or any other assistance for that matter.

Within a year of taking to the field, Zimbabwe toured Pakistan for a three Test series, where they were pitted against the very best Pakistan had to offer.

Zimbabwe lost the series 2-0, which came as no real surprise, but they earned the respect and admiration of each and every Pakistani player, for showing stamina, fitness, determination and to quote Waqar Younis "Awesome fielding".

Some of the Pakistanis stirred up a hornet's nest by proclaiming that Zimbabwe, who in those days consisted out of lawyers, tomato growers, leopard hunters and a chicken farmer, were collectively the best fielding outfit in the world.

Imagine the indignation of teams such as Australia, England and our so called (big brothers) South Africa, who never gave Zimbabwe nor their players any credit at all.

Zimbabwe remained a world class fielding outfit until the conclusion of the 2003 World Cup.

After that however, chinks started to appear in the armour, the intensity was beginning to drain out of the fielding like a bath with a faulty plug.

By mid 2005 the fielding had become a shambles and got progressively worse as time went by.

The first Test however, was a different kettle of fish all together, intensity levels in the field were high, and the vocal encouragement from the players was clearly picked up through the affects microphones.

The seamers Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara and Elton Chigumbura bowled their hearts out on a rather strange wicket.

Strange in the sense that it seemed to suit both countries’ bowling attacks.

Everybody expected the Bangladeshi spinners to thrive in their home conditions, and they didn't disappoint.

What we didn't expect was for Tinashe Panyangara to record his career best figures and to get his first five wicket haul.

This is by no means a reflection of Panyangara's abilities, because we all know that when he puts his mind to it, he can be a real hand full.

We simply expected the spinners to get amongst the wickets, but we were pleasantly surprised by the two quicks.

Chatara ran in with real intent, and put every ounce of effort into his bowling, and, if one can believe the speed gun, he clocked 140 plus kilometres per hour with regularity, his fastest ball being recorded at 144 kilometres per hour.

Sadly, the speed gun used is rather unreliable in that part of the world, but even if he wasn't bowling as quickly as the gun suggested, Chatara was outstanding, and should have had a few wickets to his name.

Panyangara was at his very best, getting movement on a seemingly unresponsive pitch, and richly deserved his five wickets.

The problem lay with the batting on both sides, neither team were able to put together any meaningful partnerships, with a number of batsmen getting starts, and then giving their wickets away.

It seemed as if they were unsure as to how to go about their innings, do we defend and defend? Or do we hit ourselves out of trouble.

Vusi Sabanda has surely overstayed his welcome in the team, and as daunting as it may be, the coaching staff and more importantly selectors on tour will have to reach a decision.

As young and as inexperienced as he may be, it may not be a bad idea to draft Brian Chari into the team.

There are ways of protecting the youngster if the think tank feel he may still be vulnerable at the top of the order.

Either Regis Chakabva or Hamilton Masakadza could open the batting, and if need be, Brendan Taylor could even come up one position and bat at number three.

Though to be blunt, if a player is selected to go on tour, he should b in contention to be selected regardless of age or experience, or else he shouldn't have been picked in the first place.

The second Test which starts on Monday will be played in the seaside town by the name of Khulna, a relatively unknown name to most Zimbabweans who are more familiar with the two main cities, Dhaka and Bangladesh's biggest seaport city, Chittagong, where the third and final Test will be played.

Unlike the hustle and bustle of Dhaka and Chittagong, Khulna is a laid back and chilled city, or at least, as laid back and as chilled as you get when travelling through Bangladesh.

The Sheikh Abu Nasser stadium made its Test debut on November 21 in 2012 when they hosted the West Indies, and is also the home ground of Shakib al Hasan who had the perfect comeback game in the first Test, after being left out of the Bangladeshi team when he had a fall out with the BCB.

Al Hasan took 6-59 in the first innings of the first Test match, and although runs are normally easier to come by in Khulna, both Shakib and the rest of the spinners will once again be a handful on a pitch that like so many pitches on the sub continent will get lower and slower as the Test progresses.

If Taylor is lucky enough to win the toss again, there would be very little doubt as to what he would want to do.

Bat first, and on this occasion hope that he and his top order apply themselves and get runs on the board.

Feedback: sports@dailynews.co.zw

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.