Bangladesh in Zimbabwe 2013 April 15, 2013

Jurgensen hopes to build on gains in SL


For the first time in their cricket history, Bangladesh enter a series as favourites. Usually, they are underdogs, occasionally they spring surprises, and when they play Zimbabwe it is considered an even match. Not this time, though.

Zimbabwe have had months of no competitive cricket, they were recently blanked in the West Indies, and various financial problems resulted in a threatened player boycott in the lead up to this series. Bangladesh had a satisfying tour of Sri Lanka, where they celebrated a maiden double-century and their highest Test total. It's obvious which team is in better shape.

It's also clear that the expectation Bangladesh constantly operate under is now realistic. That prospect is as exciting as it is scary and Bangladesh coach Shane Jurgensen's biggest task over the next two weeks is managing it.

"We're going to try keeping things really simple," Jurgensen said. "In each series we want to improve, whoever we are playing against. With that attitude in mind, we try to take away the expectations but yes, we've also come here to win."

Bravado was a quality Bangladesh usually struggled with and even their attempts at it were mostly seen as manufactured rather than authentic. Now, they have reason to consider their belief genuine because of the strides they have made.

"In 2012, we had a good year in one-day cricket. That confidence is starting to move into other formats," Jurgensen said. "What has been encouraging is the consistency in approach. We've got a group of guys hitting their mid-20s, and some slightly older guys. [They have] hit the prime of their career, when experience and physical strength all come into one. Since I've been with the team, they have really improved their whole team attitude as well. Everything we do is for the team."

An example of someone who has done that is Mohammad Ashraful. Known as a talent who thorws his wicket away, he showed real grit in Sri Lanka. "He is looking to become the new Ash, to be more patient," Jurgensen said, "The mental toughness that he had there is a sign that he has improved a lot. There was a hardly a false shot in that innings. His change of approach and attitude is really a reflection of the whole team."

With maturity growing in the batting group, Jurgensen expects that to be their strength, even under stern examination in foreign conditions. Although Zimbabwe will hope for a lively surface for their seamers, it is unlikely given the time of year.

All they will get is a strip with good carry and is probably quite flat. Bangladesh already had practice on pitches like those in Sri Lanka, according to Jurgensen. "The wickets in Sri Lanka were very good cricket wickets. They had good pace and a bit of bounce - basically what we are going to see here. So that series in SL was the best preparation we could have had."

Jurgensen expects his batsmen to hold their own so the anxiety is more over his bowlers. "It is an area that we do want to improve. Our main strength has been around the spinners and although we have some very good holding fast bowlers, what we lack at times is experience in tough situations," he said. "For the guys to have a little bit more ownership, there's a bit of honesty, that's going to take a little bit of time. I am asking the bowlers to step up."

But more than that, Jurgensen is asking the team to continue employing the philosophy that brought to Harare in a more advantageous position than ever before, because that is what he believes will see them live up to the expectation that has been created. "One of my mottoes is: let's work hard and have fun at the same time. The team has run with it and with that, we've had success.

"Everyone wants success. 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 about their games and their individual craft. We've done a lot of different things that will help them step up."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Warm_Coffee on April 18, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    Favourites against a West Indies other 11 in 09?

  • Dunwall on April 18, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    @abcdf_12345: Those were the ODIs...this is a TEST series..!

  • British_North_America on April 17, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    For the first time? What about when Zimbabwe came to Bangladesh and get white washed? What about when Bangladesh played Ireland in Dhaka for 3 match ODI series?

  • rony1008 on April 16, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    The real problem in this series for Bangladesh could be complacency. After playing well against the Srilankans, Bangladesh might feel they belong to the league of big boyz. Thats where I fear that the lack of motivation and complacency may affect the Bangladeshies. While I do believe that Bangladesh is a better team than Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe usually plays well against Bangladesh. This will be a tough series for both teams.

  • JubayedKhan on April 16, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    if bangladesh team can stick to there basis what they gained from last years or so,they can easily beat improving zimbabwe team.I wanna like to see an another double century from our bd batsman's in tomorrow's test.Go Ahead Tigers.

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    the major chage of Bangladesh team recently is the attitude and approach to the game. they have started to perform as a team. the number of contributors are more now than ever before. players are waiting in bench to get a chance and capitalize on that. the best example could be young Mominul. it will be really hard to choose a batting line up in this series which is only good for Bangladesh side. either Mominul or our vice captain can get into the side. it was harsh to Marshal Aiyub who had to sit out of the series after scoring 2 double centuries this season in the domestic circuit. these are all plus for BD cricket. there is worry for the fast bowlers. but i believe they will do good in this series to boost the of luck to the tigers.

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    i think nafiz will be the best choice for opening pair,absence of tamim iqbal. come no tiger get rid of ZIM...

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    @all_the_way, records shows the favoritism or the current status? UAE played world cup earlier than Bangladesh and I bet the record against Bangladesh was good for them as the did qualify for the world cup in 1996. Will you consider UAE is still a better team than Bangladesh?? If you don't then please don't consider Zimbabwe fav for the records only. If you say Zimbabwe will have the home advantage which they can massively utilize, I may agree but your statement is not correct.

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    this bangladesh team would be too strong for zimbabwe.....i predict 2-0 test victories for BD!!!

  • Meety on April 16, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    The real problem for Bangladesh (if nobody already knew it), is the pace bowling. Robel Hossain has a really poor FC record (let alone Test stats). The FC stats for the Banga pace bowlers on this tour are Rubel 51 @ 61, Shahadat 179 @ 38 Robiul Islam 177 @ 30 (good) & Sajidul Islam 152 @ 27 (good). Why stick with Rubel? He has easily the worst FC record of the 4 pacers. In the domestic scene Bangladesh have F Reza 134 @ 24 (barely medium), Mo Shariff 295 @ 24, A Babu 32 @ 31 (raw & can bat), KI Rabbi 41 @ 33, Syed Rasel 182 @ 27 (he had some potential till I think he got injured).