Sri Lanka in Bangladesh 2013-14

A Test series before a testing future

Mohammad Isam in Mirpur

January 25, 2014

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Mominul Haque, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan sprint during Bangladesh's training session, Dhaka, January 25, 2014
With a Test series to focus on, Bangladesh's players face the difficult task of trying to put aside worries over their cricketing futures © AFP
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Two weeks ago, the biggest question in Bangladesh cricket was whether Shamsur Rahman could become only the second batsman from the country to score a first-class triple hundred. When he failed to do so, everyone wondered if his 267 would earn him a Test call-up. All of that is now a distant memory, after a leaked document has reopened age-old questions about Bangladesh cricket's future.

To consider all factors of this 'position paper' and to implement them will certainly take some time, but just the thought of being pushed off the precipice is a worry.

Bangladesh's captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, has already voiced his disappointment over the plan to send the team down to the Inter-Continental Cup as early as next year. Whether cricket in the country will remain at the same level is a general question, but what will happen to the players? Someone like Mushfiqur may have a Masters' degree to fall back on, but what about others?

What must have been most difficult for Mushfiqur was for all this talk, about such a complicated matter, to engulf his team less than two days before a Test match. As the captain of the lowest-ranked Test team, he already deals with more difficult questions than the average international captain. On one day it is about selection and on another about how secure his country is for visiting teams. Now it is about the most basic of things: his and his country's standing in cricket.

But the cricket itself must go on, and Bangladesh will take on Sri Lanka from Monday, despite the cloud hanging over the host country. The good news for Bangladesh is that they have a settled squad to choose from, containing exciting players apart from Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Shamsur has indeed earned a place in the squad and is likely to make his debut in Mirpur, and a refreshed Imrul Kayes is another batsman to keep an eye on.

Marshall Ayub and Mominul Haque are the youngest and least experienced Nos. 3 and 4 in world cricket, but are not far behind most in potential. Mominul has made the No. 4 position his own very quickly with two centuries against New Zealand in Bangladesh's last two Test matches while Marshall is a strong-willed batsman trusted to do an important job.

Bangladesh has little to worry about the rest of the batting order or bowling attack, as the selectors have picked the best possible players. Sohag Gazi and Robiul Islam will provide adequate support to Shakib Al Hasan, while Rubel Hossain has a point to prove and a bowling average to bring down. The back-ups are also raring to go, for differing reasons. Mahmudullah has lost the vice-captaincy. Al-Amin Hossain has recently taken five wickets in an over in a domestic Twenty20 match.

Bangladesh have a new fielding coach as well, following the surprise appointment of Mohammad Salahuddin. He has mentored Shakib, Tamim, Nasir Hossain and Mominul, and it looks like he could be a short-term but effective addition to Shane Jurgensen's increasingly efficient workforce.

Last year was a good one, relatively, for Bangladesh, who won one Test, drew three and lost two. Their progress has been slow over the last 13 years, but it is not the fault of the current lot to suffer the consequences of what happened in the past. And having said that, it is not much of a past.

Bangladesh haven't been given several decades to bed into Test cricket as some other countries were. It can be argued they were admitted to the highest level of cricket a few years too soon, but had the ICC been more proactive than political at the time, they could have told the BCB a lot earlier that they were being considered for Test cricket. First-class cricket might have started much earlier than 1999, a mere year before they played their first Test.

While there have been endless debates about Bangladesh's future, it has never before surfaced as such an institutional question. In the past it had been the odd former cricketer trying to be funny or trying to outrage the media, but generally, the powers that be let their reservations about Bangladesh cricket stay within the confines of their boardroom.

But now that it has come out in the open, it has been disappointing and embarrassing for Bangladeshi cricketers. They now have to deal with ideas and thoughts that should have been the BCB's headache. Instead, the board directors' hasty stance has brought in more criticism and worried cricketers further.

Ahead of their last Test series against Sri Lanka, a string of injuries had thrown Bangladesh's preparations off kilter. Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Ashraful had then changed the course of the game, bringing up the team's first ever drawn Test against Sri Lanka.

It remains to be seen if Mushfiqur and the rest of the team can bounce back in a similar manner from all the mental commotion they must be facing now. Bangladesh cricket has often done well when faced with questions, controversy and injury. This one seems right up their alley.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 22:04 GMT)

@ Little_Aussie_Battler I agree with most of what you have said. There is nothing that is stopping both teams from playing a 3 or a 4 test series. OK, there is the Asia Cup and the T20 thing afterwards, but even if there was time, these two teams would have never played more than 2 tests. In fact, they are only playing these 2 test matches because of being forced to by the ICC FTP and by its requirement that a minimum of 2 tests played. Take away the FTP, and Bangladesh by its own free will would have preferred 5 or 7 ODIs instead of the 2 tests. So why are Bangladeshi fans complaining about their possible loss of test status, when so far they have been playing test cricket after only being forced to do so via the FTP?

Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 21:44 GMT)

Another 2 test series. When will they ever stop playing these 2-test rubbers? If Bangladesh love test cricket and want to keep playing it, then why not play 3 or even 5 test match series? A Bangladesh v Zimbabwe 5-test series wouldn't hurt either series. It is best not to insult test cricket anymore by playing such silly 2 test encounters. What is the point of such series?

Posted by Nasim_Ahmed on (January 26, 2014, 20:43 GMT)

Too much hue and cry for funds and revenues in cricket. Cricket isn't the only game that is coping with the commercial world. Tennis never complains of it, let alone football. Never heard Federar or Nadal say, 'I have been top ranked for last few years so I won't play the qualifiers anymore because it is a lose of energy for me... I don't have to play as others do to get paid because my blood is blue...'

The reason football doesn't have to worry about revenues because of its huge popularity. The popularity in turn comes from the excitement of uncertainty and the fact it has united the football nations with true spirit of sports eliminating other worldly discrimination.

Cricket on the other hand has developed very little. It still has no universal championship for its original format. Even the limited-over championships aren't beyond question. England & Australia, the founders of cricket, now with flunky India, are filling it with politics instead of sportsmanship to destroy it soon.

Posted by smukhles on (January 26, 2014, 18:19 GMT)

Malcolm Speed ( not sure how he spells his last name ) and Malcolm Grey of CA is darn wright. If ICC is that desperate to increase it's revenue by any means then try to establish Cricket here in USA and CHINA, some of these countries are the strongest financial power in the world and that should help big time than creating a 2 tier system. Very realistic thought indeed.

Posted by sergio11 on (January 26, 2014, 14:58 GMT)

@Muhammad Jesus.." BD is playing much better. interms of % they won more matches than India".........great comment my friend...ind's odi series lose in SA was after 6 series wins in a row..which include CHAMPIONS THROPY in ENG...in which they where unbeaten...you can argue BAN is playing well..il also agree to that..but most by saying stuffs likes those....will see how BAN goes in this series..NZ and WI are generally not good players of spin..infact ever ordinary players...but SL are..

Posted by avmd on (January 26, 2014, 13:52 GMT)

If BD succeded in taking the test to 5th day, then they shoul be allowed to keep their test status. If lost within three days, their test status should be put on hold for two years and give it to Ireland or even Afghanistan.

Posted by the_predator on (January 26, 2014, 11:38 GMT)

To ALL BD FANS, All the team who started playing cricket in 1930, they took years to win a test match, because in 40's there was soemthing called world war 2. Becaue of that there was almost no cricket. When INDIA won their first test (in 1952) it was against the Mighty Englishmen (in chennai (MADRAS at that time)).

I agree that this two tier system is very BAD, and should be immediately withdrawn. BD team a Good team in ODI and in their home soil they are hard to beat.

Take this AISA cup as your chance to reply to everyone by beating PAK, SL, IND (although it wont be easy). SL, IND will be raring to go against you.

Posted by reyme on (January 26, 2014, 6:13 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster: I would request you not to bring up the past too long back. If you must then I would like to bring up past for every single newer Test playing country and for the first 10-15 yrs, none of them had a significant accomplishment either. On their first Test BD did score 400 against mighty IND. BD's recent performance is very consistent in Test. They drew with WI, drew with SL in SL, just had a drawn series with NZ and beat ZIM in ZIM which ended up beating PAK. Instead of being a blind basher of BD cricket please review the performance actually played on field and you will see BD did pretty well since 2009 that includes beating WI in WI in Test as well.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 5:34 GMT)

Bangladesh will give a very good fight to Lankans and might won or draw series if they play following team 1. Tamim 2. Shamshur 3. Marshall 4. Monimul 5. Shakib 6. Naseer 7. Mushfiqur 8. Mahudullah 9. Sohag 10. Robiul. 11. Rubel

Posted by Waliurp06 on (January 26, 2014, 4:11 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster: This is called - kicking away the ladder, a colonial mentality now subscribed by India, England and Australia. Shame on them. Here are the years of test experiences: England - 137 years, Australia - 137 years, India - 82 years, SA - 125 years, WE - 86 years, NZ - 84 years. So it is completely unfair to compare BD with 14 years of experience. WE and NZ with nearly 7 times the experience still fail to perform competently. Loosing is a part of any sports and must not be the sole criteria to judge. BD cannot also be compared with Ireland, UAE, Kenya, Afghanistan or Canada as they are no match with BD as regards to cricketing infrastructure, audience and ability to grow revenue.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2014, 2:22 GMT)

with respect to Cpt. Meanster, i'll request you to check other associate members stats for instance india so that u can find out how many years they have spent comparing to BD's 13 years. it might be so simple for u to say toward such a disappointing proposal but it is unrealistic since the former & current BD team Strength is far different.

Posted by Cricketlov. on (January 26, 2014, 1:46 GMT)

@Cpt. Meanster. You are Right Mate and those who are taking against Bangladesh, they should know that other Countries like NZ, SA and More took long Time to won a test match. Cricket has Became the game of Money and Stupidity and all of the losers governing it. Look at Soccer or other Games, they are trying to Globalized the game.I don't think cricket wont last long, Oh forget about it..........

Posted by Little_Aussie_Battler on (January 26, 2014, 1:12 GMT)

Bangladesh talks about their disapointment at being relegated from test cricket, yet they only schedule a 2 test series. Well, maybe you should have thought about this long ago and made an effort to improve. Remember it is not the ICC who sets up test series. It is up to the host to foot the bill of inbound tours. The bill's on you Bangladesh if you want teams to visit.

An Ireland and Afghanistan would blast Bangladesh to oblivion in a test match, so the question begs why should Bangladesh keep test status and other nations are excluded.

End of the day Bangladesh still plays these other forms of the games that they seem to be concentrating on anyway so what is your big problem?

The mistake was, for whatever reason we gave test status to these guys in the first place.

Posted by Lion_96 on (January 26, 2014, 1:12 GMT)

Goodness me, BAN only started playing first class cricket in 1999? The results over the last 13 years would explain alot. ICC should really take the blame for this. SL played their first Test in 1982, but they had plenty of tours and first class matches with IND and PAK in the 70s & 80s. Ideally,ICC should have given them Test Status in 2009, not 1999. But whats done is done and we are all richer for BAN being part of the Cricket family.

Posted by kevinpp24 on (January 26, 2014, 1:00 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster, as the article says Bangladesh's overall poor record cannot be completely put on the shoulders of these players. Jus when these guys are starting to show some quality ICC is about to pull the plug.

You cannot compare other teams position with Bangladesh. They literally started their first class cricket simultaneously with their test debut.

For your info, India debuted on 1932 but had their first victory on 1952/53. NZ debuted on 1928 but has their first victory on 1954/55.

Posted by wapuser on (January 26, 2014, 0:45 GMT)

It was few years to early for Bangladesh to enter into elite arena and their performance had been quite disappointing, but for last 18-20 months, they are performing, though not winning but drawing tests more frequently. This will be very much unfair to the young team and it's huge fan base to relegate them in the same league of associates. The hardwork of the team is producing favorable results nowadays and doing something stupid will undo all the good work they have been doing for the last few years. I hope world's cricket community will protect their beloved game from running by some so called big 3 money hungry boards. I don't want my favourite game and a daily habit to be hijacked by some businessmen.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2014, 23:16 GMT)

what about india getting their first test victory after 20 years of their first match? why were they not relegated?

Posted by   on (January 25, 2014, 22:32 GMT)

Cpt.Meanster, not much has been achieved in 13 years, but think of what the article said about other teams taking longer. Some took half a century to truly establish themselves. I believe their record for the last two years are as good as anyones. How are they going to win against top 5 if they don't get the chance. They got one chance in playing India in the Asia cup, and they beat them. They are starting to draw most of their tests, and are on the verge of ranking #7 in odi. In fact, they were 7 for a day until Windies and NZ won their matches again. Many people complain about ICC globalizing cricket, but at the same time call for BD to exit cricket(mostly pakistani and indians). I am not a huge follower of BD cricket as I grew up in Australia, so I follow Australian cricket, but I understand that the proposal will put 13 years of hard work down the drain and that would be a tragedy.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2014, 22:14 GMT)

did ZIM win any series against the top 5 teams? What about India, they never won any match against any teams for the first 25 years. they only won against the PAK in Pak's debute test but in the next test Pak won against them. Yea it is true that 2000-2010 was very bad for BD but since 2010 BD is playing much better. interms of % they won more matches than India. BD also has two first class cricket now. by 2020 BD will be better than WI and NZ.

Posted by arif29 on (January 25, 2014, 21:57 GMT)

This new two tier system has nothing to do with Bangladesh's performance, rather it is about controlling the FTP. Otherwise why would this be suggested now, when Bangladesh has shown marked improvement in the last 2-3 years. This is very little about cricket and more about politics. Fact is Bangladesh is still very new at test level. If you look at the history of most cricketing nations, it has taken most more than 15-20 years to start performing consistently at the test level. Unfortunately we are not even being given that chance.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2014, 21:45 GMT)

Great article Isam. How time has gone quickly and how the future could shape up within a matter of days!

Posted by TigerRoars on (January 25, 2014, 21:40 GMT)

I think this is going to destroy cricket in the long run. A sport with so few countries would eventually die. This proposal will likely ensure that cricket ultimately becomes a 3-country sport. ICC + greed will destroy cricket in lower-ranked countries.

I, in fact, am in favor of a 2-tier competition. It could have 5 teams in each tier with a 2-team promotion/demotion every 2 years. It may not necessarily make test cricket competitive. How were the last few series between the BIG teams? However, the 2-tier administration is a BAD idea. The world already saw what happens when you create haves and havenots. Anyone remembers the feudal (জমিদারী) system?

Posted by SportyKid97 on (January 25, 2014, 21:13 GMT)

At Cpt.Meanster, I don't know what you are saying cause you are absolutely nuts. I have no idea about the country you are from but here it goes. When your national team first started playing test cricket or any other, I don't think they excelled much in the first 13 years of their era. They played and played and got bettter. Does BD have that chance? No right? How many test matches do we play per year compared to the BIG 3 or RSA, Pak etc? That means nothing at all. The more we play, we can learn and do better. Our ODI form right now signals that only! We have excelled in ODI cricket immensely and I would like you to look back at the first decade of your country's international career and talk! I am not being mean but stating facts! Last 24 months, BD has performed amazingly and will continue in the future!

Posted by TheRisingTeam on (January 25, 2014, 20:37 GMT)

It will be a tough series no doubt. Just play good positive Cricket like you have done for past few years. Session by session is what is important for Bangladesh.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 25, 2014, 20:20 GMT)

I know this may sound disappointing but the fact is that Bangladesh haven't done anything significant since their inception as a test nation in 2000. They did beat some top teams here and there individually but that was mainly in ODI cricket. Collectively as a nation, they haven't chained victories in terms of series win at home or overseas against teams who are in the top 5 of the ICC rankings. There was always a talk of relegating Bangladesh to the second tier even before the 'Big 3' proposal came in. It does sound harsh but the fact is that the stats or the results are not in their favour. They had 13 years to prove why they belonged at this level but have failed to do so. Still, I don't think they should be relegated to Associate status. Instead, they need to be invited by the big boys to play against them. World cricket is in turmoil now.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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