Zimbabwe thrashing highlights Bangladesh woes

Zimbabwe thrashed Bangladesh by 335 runs on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Reported by: Agence France-Presse
Last updated on Sunday, 21 April, 2013 16:44 IST
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Harare: When Zimbabwe return to the ICC Test rankings after Thursday's second Test against Bangladesh, they will enter the table above their opponents regardless of the result.

For Bangladesh, this is a damning indictment on their lack of progress since they entered the Test arena in November 2000, and raises further questions on why a nation of 150 million people has been unable to rise to the level of even the mediocre Test teams.

To put Bangladesh's woes into context, it is worth pointing out the state of the nation that thrashed them by 335 runs in the first Test on Saturday.

Zimbabwe have just 75 professional cricketers, most of whom are on part-time contracts, and only returned to Test cricket in August 2011 after a six-year exile from the five-day game.

The African side went into the current Test series smarting from a dismal tour of the Caribbean, where they lost every match against the West Indies, and dispirited after their latest contract dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket, who are laden with debt.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, enjoyed an encouraging tour of Sri Lanka where they amassed their highest ever score in a Test, yet Saturday's result was a reminder that for every step forward they have managed over the years there seems to have been an equal step back.

While the Harare Sports Club wicket had an even layer of green grass which ensured there was always something in it for the pace bowlers, too often Bangladesh's batsmen were impatient and contributed to their own demise as they were bowled out for 134 and 147.

"We were expecting difficult conditions and good bowling," captain Mushfiqur Rahim said afterwards, yet he offered no real answers as to why his side were unable to counter them.

The manner of defeat drew heavy criticism from everyone back home, but coach Shane Jurgensen suggested before the series began that what his side needs is a bit of sympathy if they are to handle the regular beatings and move forward.

"It's a combination of a few things: media, general public, high expectations," Jurgensen said. "Everyone wants success, but what a lot of people forget sometimes is that we want success as well.

"When we have a bad day, we don't mean to. Some people forget the boys are human beings and they are all very young and they have been learning."

Jurgensen also suggested that many of Bangladesh's players should make the step up over the coming years as they come into their prime.

"There's a shift where you've got a group of guys hitting their mid-20s and some slightly older guys who are still very young in cricketing age," he said.

"That's when sometimes you hit the prime of your career - when your experience and your physical strength all come into one."

While it is true that the majority of Bangladesh's team are yet to reach the age at which most cricketers peak, the call for more time is one that the cricket public has heard many times before.

Defeats by more than an innings may have become scarcer over the past five years, yet Bangladesh have still not won a Test since 2009 - and that was against a West Indian side who had lost an entire team to a contract crisis.

Test cricket is not healthy enough that it can cast teams aside without concern for its own future, but at some stage Bangladesh's Test cricketers need to start showing the sort of patience on the field that their prolonged stagnation has demanded from a discouraged public.

Story first published on: Sunday, 21 April 2013 16:38 IST

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