Bangladesh in Zimbabwe 2011 August 2, 2011

Test toddlers face off once more

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Tatenda Taibu greeted Mohammed Ashraful with a brotherly hug, the kind of embrace that two weary soldiers would share. They nodded sagely as they separated, two stalwarts who have been down this road before. As veterans of their respective national teams, friends from when Taibu spent a season playing club cricket in Dhaka and opponents on more occasions than either can remember, it was fitting to be re-entering Test cricket together.

While England and India are tussling at the top of the Test table, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are in a scrap at the bottom. Both have not played a Test in over a year, with Bangladesh's hiatus lasting 14 months because of scheduling and Zimbabwe's almost six years after a removing themselves from the longest form of the game when their house fell apart. On Thursday, that interval finally ends.

For Bangladesh, it's a chance to show that they have matured as a cricketing nation and can adjust to conditions, instead of succumbing to them. For Zimbabwe, it's the start of a new era, with one eye firmly on the future of their status as a Full Member of the ICC. To be embarking on the journey together is special, the two toddlers of the Test arena, each stacking their building blocks to see whose is higher, each confident theirs will be the tower that stands, even if it has to lean over a tad.

"We'll win it," a cheeky Tamim Iqbal said, dismissing all thoughts the Bangladesh may need some time to get back into the groove of playing Test cricket. "If you're eating with the left hand, you won't forget to eat with the right hand. It's exactly the same - you need to prepare well, set your mindset and just play." Zimbabwe's Hamilton Masakadza, who was sitting next to Tamim during their media session had a ready response. "We'll come out guns firing too and look for the win," he said.

Zimbabwe are hoping to capitalise on home advantage. They are reportedly preparing a pitch that will have some life for the quicker bowlers, so that they terrorise the Bangladesh batsmen with short balls and counteract the threat of left-arm spin. Tamim doesn't care about any of that. "We've toured South Africa, with one of the quickest wickets in the world. We faced Dale Steyn who is one the quickest bowlers in the world," he said. "I don't think there is any Dale Steyn in this team and I don't think there is any Cape Town wicket so I don't think we will have a problem."

A teasing response from Masakazda this time. "You speak so well now," he said to Tamim, who only laughed, letting the Zimbabwean continue. "Anyway, Tamim is one of the Bangladesh players who does play the short ball well. Cricket is evolving and it's a thing of the past to say one team doesn't do this, or does do this so I don't think that will play too much of a role," Masakadza said.

Part of cricket's evolution has been the debate on whether it should stay an old boys' club that only allows nine or ten big boys to play at the highest level or expand and give smaller teams time to develop. The ICC need look no further than Harare Sports Club over the next week to know the answer to that question.

There's every chance that some of the cricket played here will not be of the highest quality, that if it goes the five-day distance, the bowlers will be toiling too hard and the batsmen playing defensively, that if there is a result, it could be in a three-day shootout and this match will not go down as one of cricket's most memorable because its scorecard.

There is an even greater chance that the 22 men in white who step onto the field will be hoping with all their hearts to start something special, whether its Bangladesh trying to better their record away from home or Zimbabwe trying to show that the years of hard work have paid off, and that once the final ball is bowled they will walk off as friends and comrades who are in this journey together.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashenator on August 4, 2011, 2:15 GMT

    I agree with there SomeoneStoleMyLungi, there have been many times a team has become over-confident and lost it. Bangladesh has created a lot of oppurtunities over the years but haven't been able to convert them. Remember the time that India toured Bangladesh and Sehwag was the captain in Ms Dhoni's absence and he called Bangladesh an 'ordinary side'. This was just over-confidence from the Indian side and it showed as they were shot all-out for 248 and that too with Tendulkar scoring more than 100 of those. Bangladesh had a chance to clinch that game but yet again their batting let them down. Bangladesh should focus on training and their own camp. Hopefully Stuart Law will assist Bangladesh in becoming a major Test playing nation. Come on Bangladesh.

  • AusieBangaleeShameem on August 3, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    Well done Tamim --- it looks like Aussie's mind game before the Ashes. Not a bad idea to play mind game before any test series. And Tamim, you're the best fit in BD team to do the job, given your brilliant successive test centuries in England you played --- particularly at LORDS, where it's a dream to score century there for any batsman. Don't write off Zimbabwe yet - I've been watching them since 1983 Prudential World Cup in England. Now it's their condition, their crowd, they'll definitely try to flex their muscles. Hoping to watch an entertaining test series.

  • SomeoneStoleMyLungi on August 3, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    I didnt enjoy the way Tamim talked abt the Zim team. Tamim IS my fav player and i have known him to let his batting to the talking but i didnt like the way tht he said 'we will win it'. In my opinion he was being a bit too cocky. He couldve been more modest and said 'this should be a challenge' or 'we are working hard' because Bangladesh did lose to Zim XI. I understand he is confident but over confidence could lead to complacency. Anyways im a passionate Bangladeshi supporter so CMON TIGERS!!

  • dummy4fb on August 3, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    Since when are "toddlers" 18 and 10 years old?

  • dummy4fb on August 3, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    I love the headline test toddlers. It really is a big wakeup call to bangladesh and their fans that they are minnows and unfortunately for them are still trying to find their feet and learn to walk (pardon the pun)

  • Bengali-Tiger007 on August 3, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Guys lets just forget about this whole Tamim comments and lets just give Zim a big Welcome back cheer. Its been a long time since Zim last played test and to be really honest I don't think their missing out much compared to Bangladesh anyway. BD is only made up of two players, Shakib & Tamim. As everyone is aware, Shakib is badly out of form and Tamim is not quiete himself either. I am a proud die hard Bangladesh fan, but I'm also very honest and don't live in sceptive thoughts. I hope I'm proven wrong, but I've got the feeling that Zim will win this test and seems natural for every other teams in the world to apply themselves and stay mentally focussed regardless of the format whether its a test or even T20. Again, the only team in the World that has no game plan, nor any mental toughness, nor the will to win, nor a decent basic team selection programme or can do anything right is unfortunately Bangladesh Cricket team. So my friends from my experience, lets hope Zim dnt embaress us!!

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on August 3, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    @ Dilan: It's not arrogance of Tamim. Cricket is a mental Game too. So ,ahead of every series, both teams try to get some mental advantages by those tricky (though funny) speech whether they're Eng or Ind, SL or Aussies , Zim or BD.

  • A_Proud_Bengali on August 3, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    Though i always appreciate confidence but Tamim could have been a bit more modest. Showing respect to opponent players are an integral part of sportsmanship. However, being a young lad...i can feel the warm vice-captaincy blood flowing in him. I hope he comes up with a staggering performance to back up his comments. However, Zims are a tough outfit and will givve it their best. So good luck to both the team and being a hardcore BD fan...wishing my team a deserved victory. Ameen!

  • dummy4fb on August 3, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    While I like the confidence shown by Tamim, I do not like the fact that he is making judgments about Zimbabwe cricket. He could have just left it at 'we'll win it'. Anyway, I wish to see a Bangladesh win. Go Bangladesh!

  • dummy4fb on August 3, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    Dilan Naik, Tamim was being a bit funny, nothing else. He might be playing mind game, he knows that his team was down in the practice match. Also, he deserves the right to talk a bit too much, you will know by the end of the tour why I am saying so.

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