West Indies coach Stuart Law praised his seamers for a strong early effort in “arctic conditions” at the start of the second Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. While the mercury was as high as 38 degrees Celsius earlier this week, temperatures plummeted in the days before the game and dropped as low as 13 degrees today.
“In these conditions, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s hard work,” Law said. “You’ve got to concentrate. All in all I thought our seamers bowled well up front in arctic conditions.”
West Indies’ quicks nipped three of Zimbabwe’s top order out inside the first hour of play, and they might also have removed Hamilton Masakadza early on had it not been for a no-ball from Shannon Gabriel. Law rued the missed opportunity, saying: “We had a wicket off a no-ball which has hurt us. We need to rectify that. We have spoken about it because it has happened quite often. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t do it again.”
The error from Gabriel aside, there wasn’t a lot wrong with West Indies’ effort and Law singled out Kemar Roach for particular praise. Roach, who has taken 14 wickets in his last four Tests before this one, removed both Solomon Mire and Brendan Taylor in his opening spell.
“He’s leading our attack,” Law said. “He’s our most experienced bowler and has the most wickets as well. He’s had some time out of the game as well, so it’s good to see him back in. He’s bowled superbly for us in England, thought he bowled well in the first Test and exceptionally well again this morning.”
In conditions suited to spin bowling, it was thought that Devendra Bishoo would also prove a handful for Zimbabwe, especially after his nine-wicket haul in the first Test. He struggled in the cold, however, and went wicketless on the first day despite the turn on offer. “Bishoo struggled to get his hands warm so it didn’t quite come out for him,” Law explained. “The wicket is spinning square before lunch on day one again. It’s probably not an ideal five-day wicket, but it is what it is.”
With Gabriel nursing what appeared to be some tightness in his hamstring, and Jason Holder also leaving the field during the day, West Indies turned to some of their part-time bowlers. Jermaine Blackwood came on as first change, while Roston Chase’s offspinners were used far more extensively than they had been in the first innings of the first Test.
“The wickets aren’t going to be anywhere near conducive to seam bowling, so we’ve got to keep our seamers fresh,” Law explained. “It’s not about winning the game on day one, there are four more to go. If we blow them out in the first hour and a half of the first day we’re not going to set ourselves up well. Using Jermaine Blackwood for a period of time, although not the way I would have gone, he came on and did a good job. Went for eight runs off four overs, couple of plays and misses.”
There was little further joy for West Indies after their early breakthroughs, with Hamilton Masakadza and PJ Moor putting on 142 for the fourth wicket, but Law remained hopeful that West Indies could reassert themselves on day two.
“Take nothing away from Hamilton and Pete Moor, they dug in and put up a good partnership. They had a bit of luck – Hamilton with the no-ball – but he’s certainly played well. He hits the ball well and on wickets like these he’s tough to contain as well. We know that at times there are going to be partnerships, we’ve just got to hang in and get a wicket. We saw in the first Test that if you get one or two you can start a rot. Fingers crossed we can start one tomorrow.”