Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bulawayo, 1st day August 15, 2005

Absentee spectators

Cricinfo staff

Shane Bond starts the slide © AFP
The first day of the second Test match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand marked the return of Test cricket to Bulawayo after a 15-month absence. On that occasion Zimbabwe were hammered by Sri Lanka, losing by an innings and 254 runs, a margin only surpassed last week in Harare.

The people of Bulawayo did not seem to know that there was even an international cricket match going. Queens is just less than five minutes drive from the centre, but most people in Zimbabwe's second-largest city went on with their usual business on the first working day of the week.

A crowd of about 500 watched the first day of the match and witnessed Shane Bond cut through the Zimbabwe top order. The same crowd cheered as Tatenda Taibu put up a brave fight, and went crazy when local boy Keith Dabengwa, on his debut, pulled Daniel Vettori for a six to get off the mark in Test cricket.

It might have been a working day in Zimbabwe but most of the cricket fans are school kids, and at the moment, the schools are on holiday, so it is clear that the loss in Harare dampened their enthusiasm and they decided to watch the match on television, if they watched at all.

After that plucky performance by Zimbabwe on the first day, more fans might decide to find their way to Queens for the remainder of the game to see it for themselves.