Pitch Report: Harare Sports Club
Harare will host its first Test match since August 2014 when Zimbabwe host Sri Lanka in the first test of a two-Test series.
Ends: Prayag End, Cycle Pure End
Test History: 32 Tests (8 home wins, 8 Draws, 16 away wins)
Last 10 tosses: 3 batted first ( 2 wins, 1 loss) 7 bowled first ( 2 wins, 5 losses)
Surrounded by jacaranda trees and with a beautiful gabled pavilion, Harare Sports Club is in the heart of the city.
It is bordered by the heavily-guarded presidential palace on one side and the prestigious Royal Harare Gold Club on another.
HSC hosted Zimbabwe’s first Test in October 1992 and has been the country’s major Test and one-day venue since.
Although the club itself does not possess any of the major stands associated with major sports grounds, the capacity of around 10,000 can be increased by the use of temporary stands – a record crowd of 26,000 saw Rhodesia play the MCC in 1956. However, that capacity is rarely tested and even games against major touring sides fail to draw any other than moderate crowds.
The main social centre is the pavilion with its popular bar, and the other end of the ground is home to Castle Corner, a lively alternative bar. HSC is also home to Zimbabwe Cricket, the country’s board.
The earliest recorded first-class cricket match at Harare Sports Club was played in 1910. In the years between World War II and independence from the United Kingdom, the ground hosted several of Rhodesia’s home matches in the Currie Cup, South Africa’s main domestic first-class competition.
Last Time Out
Harare has not hosted a Test match since August 2014 with Zimbabwe suffering from a scarcity of inbound Test tours.
South Africa visited their neighbours for a one-off Test that would star debutant Dane Piedt and Dale Steyn.
Piedt picked up 8 wickets in the match as Zimbabwe’s batsmen struggled on the sporting pitch, Steyn took five in the first innings that included a knock of 93 from Brendan Taylor but little else.
The contest was marked by slow scoring rates with Faf du Plessis scoring 98 from 264 balls to top score for the Proteas.
South Africa won the match by nine wickets.
Happy Hunting Ground
Hamilton Masakadza has scored 837 runs in Test matches in Harare at an average of 39.85 including three centuries and a top score of 119 against the West Indies in 2001.
Graeme Cremer is the leading wicket-taker at the ground in Zimbabwe’s inexperienced bowling attack having claimed 8 wickets in the three Tests he has played there.
None of the current crop of Sri Lanka players have played Test cricket in Zimbabwe.
Proteas skipper at the time, Hashim Amla, on spinner Piedt’s performance and the wicket: “He bowled exceptionally well. The wicket did turn and offered a lot of assistance to the spinners, but he bowled brilliantly. He stuck to good lines and I managed to set a good field and he did the rest.”
Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said: “Even though the wicket was quite slow paced when Dale Steyn starts reversing, he is quick through the air so it doesn’t matter how slow the pitch is.”
Hot and dry for five days.
Unless the ground staff produce a surprise we can expect a slow turning wicket although not quite on the same level as the dust bowls Sri Lanka bamboozled Australia on.
The seamers will have to be patient and are unlikely to pick up too many wickets unless they possess special qualities.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen will probably deal with the pitch a little better and their spin trio of Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan could prove too much for an inexperienced Zimbabwe team to handle.
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