BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Head coach, Stuart Law has lauded the determination of the West Indies seam attack on the flat track at Queens Sports Club and has urged authorities here to improve the standard of their pitches in order to aid the development of the Zimbabwe side.
Both Tests in the just concluded series were played at Queens and on both occasions, the pitch proved flat, dry and unresponsive, with West Indies managing to come away with a 1-0 series win.
Though unsuitable for fast bowling, both new-ball bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach, along with captain Jason Holder, managed to trouble Zimbabwe’s batsmen in spells where they worked hard to create pace and movement.
“Credit where credit is due. On very slow, low wickets to have Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach doing what they did out there, was outstanding to watch,” Law said.
“When the ball was flying through it excited everybody at the ground. You could hear the crowd getting behind it as well. They toiled manfully out there in those conditions. The first Test match was very hot, very dry but they kept coming, they didn’t give up. “Every time they got the ball in hand, they answered the call from the captain. Those guys have been great – and the captain himself. In this Test match, [he got] a hundred in the first innings and he bowled beautifully as well in tough conditions.”
In the first Test, the Windies seamers picked up just six wickets as leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo ended with a nine-wicket match haul on a pitch that turned before lunch on the opening day.
However, the second Test proved also difficult for Bishoo as the turn was slow and Zimbabwe’s batsmen had little problems negotiating the right-armer.
He finished with four wickets in the match but Gabriel and Roach were especially outstanding, accounting for nine wickets between them, as the contest ended in a stalemate.
With the two-Test tour of New Zealand starting later this month, Law said the quicks would be anxiously anticipating the conditions there.
“I can’t be more proud of our boys. The fast bowlers get a rough end of the stick on these types of pitches but in the end it proves hard for the spinners as well,” the Australian noted.
“It was that slow the batsmen had time to adjust every time it moved. All in all we played well, I’m very pleased where we are. Our fast bowlers are quality and I bet they’re looking forward to going to New Zealand.”
Zimbabwe have struggled following their return to Test cricket and lie bottom of the international rankings, without a single win in four years.
The Windies series represented an opportunity for them to make strides against a higher ranked side but Law said if pitches remained as they were, then Zimbabwe would be worse off.
“The challenge is always going away from home and to play your cricket on slow, turgid, nothing wickets, it’s not going to set yourself forward and continue your growth to win games of cricket,” Law said in a frank assessment.
“We have issues all around the world with the quality of pitches particularly when a touring team lands on your shores. I’d just like to see a more even contest between bat and ball.
“We’ve come from England where the ball was swinging and seaming; it provided great cricket. It really did.” He continued: “There are a lot of people out there saying that Test cricket is dying. On a pitch like that [at Queens], yeah it is. No disrespect, they (Zimbabwe) played the conditions, they utilised what they had to get ahead but for the growth of the sport, to continue the growth of the sport, I think we need to be playing on better pitches.”