Test matches (2): Zimbabwe 1, Bangladesh 1
One-day internationals (3): Zimbabwe 2, Bangladesh 1
Twenty20 internationals (2): Zimbabwe 1, Bangladesh 1
In a low-key tour inevitably overshadowed by the Indian Premier League, Test cricket's two weakest teams provided no evidence they would be catching up with the rest of the pack any time soon - or even stealing a march on each other. While Bangladesh often gave the impression of being uninterested, Zimbabwe's obvious enthusiasm was compromised by a lack of support from their board. The result was a series of matches too often decided by the dubious tie-breaker of which side had performed less badly: a case of the resistible force versus the movable object.
Zimbabwe's preparations were hampered by a two-day strike by players who were not on central contracts. Offered $US100 per week by Zimbabwe Cricket to get them through the winter months - plus a $2 daily bus fare - the fringe players took a stand until ZC came up with something closer to a liveable wage. Even then, Craig Ervine opted instead for a gig with Lisburn CC in Northern Ireland.
Deep in debt (informed estimates put the figure at close to $20m), ZC were attempting to cut corners at every opportunity while they awaited the hoped for cash influx from hosting India in July: Heath Streak's contract as bowling coach was not renewed at the end of March, and ground staff found their salaries reduced. The austerity measures were immediately obvious to anyone watching the series on television, with the board opting for SuperSport's cheapest package - one which the broadcaster generally provided for domestic matches in South Africa. There were only nine cameras in the ground, compared to the usual 24 for international cricket, and no Decision Review System. To limit travel costs, both Tests were played in Harare, and all the shorter games at Bulawayo.
Bangladesh, fresh from an encouraging tour of Sri Lanka, arrived as favourites, but their decision not to play a warm-up match was called into question when Zimbabwe won the First Test comprehensively. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth back home. Matters were put into perspective three days later when, on the eve of the Second Test, an eight-storey factory just outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than a thousand people. Bangladesh wore black armbands the next day, and dedicated their victory to the victims.
Although the series ended 1-1, the quality of the cricket hardly left the neutral pining for a decider. Only Brendan Taylor, who became the third Zimbabwean to make hundreds in both innings of a Test, and Robiul Islam, who carried the Bangladesh attack with 15 wickets, came away with their reputations enhanced.
Zimbabwe benefited from bowling first in all three one-day internationals, with 9am starts providing early assistance for the seamers. But Taylor's fortune at the toss was less decisive than the tendency of the Bangladesh top order to throw away their wickets. Their series defeat led Mushfiqur Rahim to announce he would resign the captaincy, though it was clear he had made an emotional and hasty decision without consulting his peers. By the end of the Twenty20s, he had realised his folly, and sought talks with the BCB to restore his position.
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