Bangladesh cricket November 9, 2013

Bangladesh find their formula for success

A focused, methodical approach from the players and coach has helped Bangladesh overshadow the controversies that piled up over the summer with a dominant show against New Zealand

Bangladesh had a messy summer featuring corruption confessions, suspensions, unfair treatment of some players and strikes. Five months on, they have found international success, having dominated New Zealand at home again. The short turnaround period has much to do with proper focus on the job. If the progress made in terms of fitness, skills and attitude from May to October 2013 is replicated every year, there could be more success ahead.

The manner in which Bangladesh dominated New Zealand in parts of the Test series and all through the ODI series could be traced back to the long training camp that began in June and ended in early September. It involved rebuilding the batting and bowling line-ups, lengthening the talent pipeline and restoring confidence. And suddenly, the traumatic events of the summer seem a long way away.

The bad news cycle began with Mushfiqur Rahim's sudden resignation as captain after they lost the ODI series to Zimbabwe. The BCB backed him and he stayed on, but there were bigger jolts to come. Mohammad Ashraful soon revealed that the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit had questioned him over alleged corruption in the BPL. The BCB suspended him indefinitely. The ICC did the same to eight others. The Dhaka Premier League, the domestic one-day competition, was at a standstill, with the non-availability of national players, the weather and the players' transfer system all stalling the tournament, time and again. The BCB's representative sides all failed on tour: Bangladesh A lost all their matches in England, the Under-23s managed to lose to UAE in a tournament in Singapore and the U-19s had their fair share of learning to do in England too.

Then there was the dithering over the BCB elections and the under-preparedness of the World T20 venues, though is it unlikely the players dwelt too much on these last two sagas. Still, it was all there, a conveyer belt of negative news coming out of Bangladesh cricket.

Maybe adversity brings out the best in Bangladesh players, though. In 2005 they followed up disastrous first Test series in England by famously beating Australia. In 2007, their much-criticised World Cup team beat India. The following year they beat New Zealand soon after a group of players went to the rebel Indian Cricket League. But 2013 wasn't just about a bad tour or questionable selection. It was about loss of integrity and a general feeling of defeat that pervaded the world of otherwise hard-working cricketers.


Winning is what matters in Bangladesh cricket, because it something that has eluded the team for years. So it was important that the senior team kept their focus through all the issues. In the lead-up to the New Zealand series, Mushfiqur and coach Shane Jurgensen hardly wavered from their plan.

The captain and coach have different approaches, both with a positive trickle-down effect on the team. Mushfiqur is all hard work, the first to arrive at training and the last to leave on most days. He is a devourer of all the knowledge required for his and his side's improvement. Jurgensen treats this team as an international side, one that commands respect and his full attention. He is a background man, unwilling to share the players' limelight but always there in case of a problem.

When they began sifting through the mess on and off the field, there was much to do. They needed a new Test No. 3 and 4, and to try and find Tamim Iqbal a more settled opening partner. The pace bowlers required higher levels of fitness, while the spinners needed to be effective on slower pitches.

Throughout the BPL fixing controversy, there was a buzz at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. There were new batsmen and bowlers pushing the established players, making sure nobody went home happy after the day's work. If Mominul Haque was being fed throw-downs rigorously in the National Cricket Academy ground, Marshall Ayub revved up the bowling machine in the indoor facilities. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan spent some time abroad, playing in the Twenty20 leagues, but they too remained in touch with base.

The captain and coach have different approaches, both with a positive trickle-down effect on the team. Mushfiqur is all hard work, the first to arrive at training and the last to leave on most days. Jurgensen treats this team as an international side, one that commands respect and his full attention.

Mashrafe Mortaza led the pace bowlers by example. If the likes of Robiul Islam and Rubel Hossain needed any inspiration, it was Mashrafe's recovery from his heel injury. He lost 15 kilos and made sure there were no gaps in his preparation. Witty and ready for an adda with anyone interested, Mashrafe is someone any captain would want in his dressing-room.

The Dhaka Premier League finally started in September, and things started to fall into place. Mominul Haque and Sohag Gazi gave Prime Doleshwar an early lead on the points table, though they did not enjoy success on the Bangladesh A tour. The pair, later, was grateful for their issues in England, though, as they felt it helped pinpoint their weaknesses better than any nets session.

Gazi became the first cricketer in Test history score a hundred and take a hat-trick in the same match. Mominul scored back-to-back centuries, in Chittagong and Dhaka, the first since Tamim's hundreds in Lord's and Manchester in 2010. Tamim also went through a slight change in approach, going against his natural attacking instincts and batting more solidly instead, while Shakib continued to offer glimpses of his class as an allrounder. The likes of Naeem Islam, Rubel Hossain and Shamsur Rahman, who have more often than not drawn looks of concern with previous showings, performed confidently.

The transformation of Bangladesh from an innocuous, often-derided team to a force at home is well underway. Their revival is testament to the benefits of employing an analytical approach at every level, one which had to be forced out of the BCB at times but has culminated in two drawn Tests and a dominant showing in an ODI series.

The time has come to appreciate the team's strengths. They've done a lot in the past couple of weeks to advance their bid to rid themselves of the minnows tag. But this is international cricket, it takes you up and down in matter of weeks. Bangladesh will just have to bank their new-found winning attitude.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    i dont think playing with team like afganistan and ireland will help our cricket in any way :P we should try to invite stronger teams

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    Bangladesh is not getting opportunity of playing international cricket regularly. The ICC is not giving Bangladesh their fare share of cricket. That is unfortunate. One truly competitve test match does more to a side than one year,s training sessions do. Bangladesh should not wait for ICC to be fair someday and give them their share of international cricket. Instead, they should be playing provincial teams of strong cricketing nations like Australia and South Africa home and away on regular basis. Those teams are better than the current senior teams of New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

  • shahina on November 10, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    success after success, last year alone BD won series against srilanka, new zealand, west indies, zimbabwe and ireland and in every series they beat opposition atleast one time. i am sure if they play more matches, their winning ratio will be much higher

  • Golam on November 9, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    Well wrote Isam ! BD cricket need some thorough encouragement & it will only get better if its comes from some good sport journalist / standart sport journalism !! I don't know why ESPN & the others are not rasing their voice against the ICC for giving Bangladesh the right so they can play 3 match test series & five one day'ers ?? Come on Guy's ... We need your help !!!

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    In my point of view, Bangladesh has reached a new level but it still much behind from the high standard. The batting strategy and technique is still immature. So it should work more on its batting. Also it needs some good test fast bowler to win a test against strong opponents.

  • Amir on November 9, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    I like your articles Mr. Isam. You stay neutral with objective analysis. I agree BD team has reached a new level but we are still at bottom of the pile in international cricket but not by as much as we used to be. We have a few years of hard work ahead of us to establish a good infrastructure to feed talented cricketers up the pipeline with enough experience in 1st class competition. Until we have 3/4 players competing for national team at every position, we won't be consistent. I have high hopes that we are on the way up. The attitude, teamwork and mentality is a lot better and the future looks bright. Go Tigers!!!

  • maruf on November 9, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    I like tamim with his present approach in test cricket. it will be very helpful for bd team. he is one of few players of bd who can play any bowler of the world in any condition. at last very well said by isam- this is international cricket, it takes you up and down in matter of weeks. Bangladesh will just have to bank their new-found winning attitude.

  • KH. RAFIQUE on November 9, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    Its really high time for us that we must not be over complaisant and work more on our weaknesses.But in order to ensure that weakness has been overcome, playing international matches are we all required badly.I must urge BCB to invite AFG and IRE to play 5 ODIs and 2 T20s with each team in within the remaining time before 2014.If BCB has any doubts over our political situations then they might ask the respective boards to organize such schedule in their own venues as Dubai is the venue for AFG and IRE has 2 venues of their own.This way our players would be always in touch with international matches and they will be always on their tows to perform.Come on BCB, you can dot it>>>>

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