Zimbabwe’s national cricket team resumed test play on Thursday with a flying start after a six-year time-out, facing Bangladesh at Harare Sports Club.
International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, in the sparse crowd of 300 attending, said he did ''everything in my power'' to facilitate Zimbabwe's test return.
''I am really thrilled to be here,'' Lorgat said. ''Zimbabwe cricket had its own domestic challenges to overcome. This is an enormous step for Zimbabwe. It is a positive day.''
Lorgat said he hoped Zimbabwe will continue to develop the sport domestically to create a ''robust first-class structure" for cricket in the country.
''There is still a long way to go before Zimbabwe can compete consistently with the very best test nations in the world, but this is a good start,'' Lorgat said.
Zimbabwe posted 264 runs on day one of the five-day match; play was to resume Friday.
Hamilton Masakadza scored 88 runs. Debutant Tinotenda Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda put on a century laying a solid foundation for the rest of the team to build upon.
Zimbabwe pulled out of test play in 2005 at the encouragement of the ICC as the team was divided over politics and personalities and was no longer playing at test level.
Zimbabwe Cricket decentralized the sport and set up provincial franchises in the aim of strengthening the domestic league. It also lured back key talent and managers.
Cricket commentator Dean du Plessis told VOA Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye that the Zimbabwe side was off to a good start.
Zimbabwe Cricket Chairman Peter Chingoka said the test was only the first step in a developing process. ''We are hoping to be very competitive and grow with each match,'' he said. ''We are looking to maintaining a solid position in test cricket. The players are psyched up and its showing by the way they are playing," he said.
Chingoka also hopes for a higher turnout of fans in the future. "There should be a turnaround if we have good performances in the next games," he said.
Bangladesh is playing one test and five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe. Other test matches are being scheduled against Pakistan and New Zealand.