Thursday, 28 June 2007

Are Bangladesh really progressing?

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.


Cricketviewpoint said...

If Cricket had a Kerry Packer revolution and players had to quit the ICC organised games and join that seperate brand, I think Bangladesh and some of the lesser known nations could rise as a nation. Espescially some of their younger stars.

Nick Gammons said...

Tim, you make some very astute points. I had hoped to see some improvement from Bangladesh, but they remain a woeful Test team. It cannot help their young players to be so regularly thrashed by the other Test nations.

Also, it is now a given for people discussing test stats to disregard performances against Bangladesh, which devalues Test cricket all the more.

I'm not sure what the best solution is, but the current situation needs to be addressed.

I would add that the ICC need to investigate their Test match calendar and stop giving priority to England and Australia, who are the only nations still having regular five match series at times that suit them. Sri Lanka, despite being one of the best Test sides around at the moment, are still treated as second class by the ICC.

Richard Lake said...

I think it's getting toward the time for two divisions of Test nation, with the top eight and next eight playing a four year cycles. At the end of each cycle the top and bottom teams switch places and it all starts again.

This will mean that one of the top nations will slip into the lower reaches of test playing nations, but could you really justify West Indies playing Aus or England as any better than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. Four years at the second level would produce a winning team with some confidence to move back up again.

This scheme would also give hope to countries such as Ireland, and this may stop them losing players to England as they want to play test cricket.

Cricket Guru said...

I have my doubts whether the two tier system will take shape any soon.

The best way would be that Bangladesh keeps continuing playing more ODIs, atleast for the time being, with an occasional test series thrown in between. Alongside, they can develop a good domestic circuit by allowing couple of foreign players per team to participate.

IMO, it would be cruel to strip Bangladesh of its test status. They have some incredibly good youngsters. The fans and administrators need to stretch their patience a little more to enable this team emerge out of the hole.

Tim said...

A second tier is intriguing, although, if it did happen, a three-match series between the bottom of Tier 1 against the top of Tier 2 would be a fair way to determine whether the Tier 2 side really were ready for full Test status.

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