After their hugely encouraging wins over India and South Africa in the Caribbean, the feeling was that Bangladesh were finally turning the corner. Yet, in their last two Tests, they have lost by an innings and over 200 runs, claiming nine wickets for 1187 runs. Even in this age of ubiquitous “positives”, it is hard to see any encouraging signs amidst such cricketing slaughters.
As a one-day side, Bangladesh have enough flair in their batting and discipline in their bowling to be a competitive side; when players like Mohammad Ashraful or Mashrafe Mortaza are on form, they are perfectly capable of causing upsets, as illustrated in the World Cup.
But, in the Test arena, their batsmen, infuriatingly, seem incapable of playing with any discipline. Their woes are encapsulated by their precious 22-year-old skipper Ashraful, outrageously gifted but unable to bat for the long periods of time necessary to build Test innings; despite his apparent emergence after an excellent World Cup, he remains far too inconsistent and prone to losing concentration.
Their bowling was impressive in the West Indies, with Mortaza providing the penetration – as when taking four wickets against India - and their quartet of left-armers, including three left-arm spinners, proving very difficult to score quickly off on the generally slow wickets. Since then, they have played on slow wickets, in India and Sri Lanka, but, in Test match cricket, their bowlers, Mortaza sometimes excepted, very rarely bowl wicket-taking deliveries and runs are picked off with depressing ease.
In short, for all the hype surrounding their ODI performances which are, undeniably, on an upward curve, Bangladesh have shown virtually no improvement after seven years of Test cricket. They continue to be beaten mercilessly, providing such weak opposition that batting and bowling averages are devalued. They have a young team, yes but, considering all the investment in the game over the last decade, their lack of Test progress is a disgrace. Whether they are gaining more from regular Test thrashings then they would from regular games against A sides, mixed with ODIs and occasional Tests, however, is surely very doubtful.