Zimbabwe squad remains uncertain July 24, 2006

Weary Bangladesh finally arrive in Harare

Cricinfo staff

Dav Whatmore: 'It'll be a hell of a contest' © Getty Images
Bangladesh's cricketers landed in Harare after a grueling 31-hour trip from Dhaka which included a 12-hour stopover in Doha and a second stop in Nairobi. They have five days to acclimatise before the first ODI in Harare.

The original schedule would have meant the side stopping over in Kenya for a few days but that was amended when a warm-up match in Zimbabwe on July 26 came up.

Dav Whatmore, Bangladesh's coach, was less bullish than he had been last week about the five-match series between one-day cricket's basement sides. "I have noted that the Zimbabwean team are also keenly looking forward to this visit and they have sent their players to South Africa for three practice matches before Bangladesh come and I get the feeling that they are really keen to even up the score from when they played in Bangladesh last year. So it'll be a hell of a contest.

"Most judges would say that Bangladesh would start favourites and I would agree despite our ICC ranking in one-day format. Bangladesh have played some good cricket and are probably in all honesty are a little bit better than Zimbabwe but the conditions might put us back on a level playing field. I think both teams would feel that they have a chance of winning."

Asked about the dominance of spin in matches in Zimbabwe, Whatmore was equally open. "During the Bangladesh A tour of Zimbabwe our spinners have done well but if you are good enough as a quick then it is better to bowl there than here. I think we have the pace attack and if we need to lean towards the slower bowlers then we have the manpower to do that as well."

Zimbabwe have yet to name their squad, but the nucleus is expected to come from the side in South Africa. Terry Duffin, the captain, is flying in from the UK where he is playing club cricket, as is Brendan Taylor. What is less certain is whether others who are in the UK will return, and it is rumoured that Ed Rainsford, the team's leading strike bowler, has not made himself available. The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the Zimbabwe board's media department repeatedly refuses to answer questions put to it by Cricinfo.