Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare April 22, 2013

Pitch questions for back-to-back Tests


Others may have taken it as a rest day but neither Zimbabwe nor Bangladesh opted to put their feet up on what would have been the fifth day of the first Test with both camps were back at work on Sunday.

Grant Flower held a net with his players who had not featured in the Test while Bangladesh were engaged in a full session after they crushing 335-run defeat. But they were not the only ones getting ready. The Harare Sports Club groundstaff were also out in full force, grateful for the extra day to prepare for back-to-back Tests.

This is only the 13th occasion in Test history that the same venue is being used for two Tests in the space of eight days but it is the first time in 11 years that is happening. Sharjah was the most recent case, where Australia and Pakistan played in 2002 and Harare has hosted consecutive Tests once before, in 1999 against Sri Lanka.

While it is an advantage to the teams, who have already played once at the ground and will have had some time to get used to it, it is a scramble for the organisers; this time even more so because drizzle is dominating the build-up.

There was rain in the city on Sunday afternoon and early on Monday morning. After a few hours of sunshine, it came down again and more rain is forecast for both Tuesday and Wednesday, with clear skies for the start of the second Test on Thursday.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Zimbabwe would like to leave a similar amount of grass on the surface as was present for the first Test. Brendan Taylor was pleased with both the assistance it offered to the home quicks and that it "took the Bangladesh spinners, which we know is their strength, out of the equation."

The reverse applied too. Bangladesh's seamers, Robiul Islam in particular, also enjoyed the conditions and Zimbabwe's top-order battled. In the hope they will not face a similar early wobble, Zimbabwe have to be careful not to leave too much grass on it.

Their efforts in getting the balance right could all be washed away if wet weather persists for long enough to cause the surface to be underprepared. Batting could be even more difficult, which will not come as good news to either side.

An obvious question would be why the second Test is not played at Zimbabwe's other main venue, Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo? Conspiracy theorists have brought up the history - Zimbabwe have only won one Test there compared to seven in Harare while Bangladesh have never won here and drew once in Bulawayo - and the idea that the hosts may not want to play on a slower surface that may take some turn, but the real reason lies in the finances.

The costs of travel for both teams to Bulawayo for a Test, back up to Harare for ODIs, and then to Bulawayo again for more limited-overs games was steeper than simply staying in one centre for an extended period. Money has also limited the number of television cameras at the matches.

The broadcasters, SuperSport, are using the same number they would use to cover a domestic game in South Africa, nine, which is significantly fewer than the 24 they use for an international, and there is no DRS.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Daniel on April 23, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    What do you mean poor attitude from Zimbabwe? The wickets are similar to the conditions that are experienced in the country, why would you set up a wicket that is similar to sub continental conditions because Bangladesh are on tour. I say well done to Zim and keep up the good work you're using home conditions to your advantage. ZC however do need to sort their finances out avoid losing the likes of Ervine, Querl ( who I see has signed a short contract with Hampshire ) etc to club / county cricket. Ballance has gone and is not going to return but they still might be able to stop a couple before they are lost. Chingoka needs to step down and let someone new take over as this will probably encourage more investment from the private sector as you are not getting anything from the government.

  • Andrew on April 23, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    So Jamal is claiming that the ground staff prepared the pitch better for Zimbabwe than Bangla? That is what is called 'scraping the barrel' for excuses. After all, how could the ground staff know that Bangla would win the toss and put Zimbabwe in? Infact, I think if anything, it was prepared in the hope Zim would win the toss and put Bangladesh in! Clearly, the Bangladesh team thought it was green enough to bowl Zim out on the first day - something they failed to do. And if the team had a problem they should have reported it to the match referee! I think the more pertinent issue was that there were not enough cameras being used by Supersport, which badly affected the third umpire's ability to do his job. But both teams had to play under those conditions so it was an even contest.

  • Julian on April 23, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Of course each country will be better accustomed to their home conditions because they are playing at home!!!! Its a common trend in world cricket for teams to struggle away and then dominate at home e.g. ( Aus 4 v Ind 0 in Aus / Ind 4 v Aus 0 in Ind ) The last 2 Aus v Ind series showed how strong teams are at home or how indept they are away depending which way you look at it. Sth Africa are the best team in the world but could they win in India right now ??? I don't think their quicks will have much effect there just like the Aussies quicks failed, The English team were successful because they have 2 quality spinners but i doubt they could beat South Africa home or away.

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    Harare ground may not be in Bangladesh team's favor, but it will be valuable experience. Just watch how Taylor played. Be patient and try to make runs from 1s and 2s. I hope the players will do better in next one.

  • Andrew on April 23, 2013, 1:37 GMT

    @Jamal Hossain Shuvo/Abdullah Al Noman - I really think the frustration should be vented at the BCB as opposed to Zim groundstaff. The BCB SHOULD of programmed more tour matches, even if it meant they funded that part of the tour themselves. Zim have a right to play wherever they want to play the matches, although I don't think they should change the charactoristics of a pitch to weaken the opposition (not saying that happenned here, some would call it home advantage anyway). Bangladesh for the 2nd time, has been caught out in Zim without enuff preparation! There is a saying about making the same mistake twice!

  • Eugene on April 22, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    Bangladesh fans always looking for excuses. Just accept that Zimbabwe is better.

  • Sean on April 22, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    Jamal how could the groundsman have changed the pitch so much in the space of a few minutes??? Zimbabwe batted first then Bangladesh batted next just after them then Zimbabwe batted again in both Zim inings they collapsed but B Taylor steadied the ship, Bangladesh did not have anyone with the patience to do the job that BT did, the pitch tested both side so please stop blaming the pitch

  • Dummy4 on April 22, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    Bangladesh played poorly...No beating that..They could not overhaul taylor's personal score as a team in the 1st innings..That speaks for itself.

  • Dummy4 on April 22, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    @Nduru you r right about home advantage but you have missed the point what Jamal Hossain Shuvo want to say!!!!! Yes we can understand what the pitch Zim put the Bd Batters on but during match(5days 15 se.) time between two team's batting generally there is something to care about the pitch.........anyway that is not an excuse to cover up BD's terrible show of batting!

  • Andrew on April 22, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    @Jamal. What was that buddy? Does Bangladesh not do that at home too - preparing them low and slow for your spinners? This is called home advantage mate, and if you want to enjoy some of it, I advise you to tell your Board to invite Zim for some tests there in Bangladesh.

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