September 20, 2008

Bangladesh in retreat

Ric Finlay

I was keen to observe whether or not Bangladesh has made material progress since it won full ODI status ten years ago. To do this, I took the 17 bilateral one-day series of three matches against Test-playing opposition (and excluding Zimbabwe) that it has participated in over that time, and extracted the batting average of Bangladesh and its opponents in those series:

Comparing Bangladesh's batting average with opposition's in ODIs
Season Versus Opp. batting ave Bangla batting ave Batting ratio
2001-02 Pakistan 41.41 23.28 0.56
2002 Sri Lanka 43.31 17.93 0.41
2002-03 South Africa 55.27 15.10 0.27
  West Indies 51.38 20.30 0.40
2003 Australia 50.90 13.13 0.26
  Pakistan 45.03 23.23 0.52
2003-04 England 51.78 15.83 0.31
  West Indies 20.42 15.78 0.77
2004-05 New Zealand 25.92 14.78 0.57
  India 35.09 27.69 0.79
2005-06 Sri Lanka 29.09 22.48 0.77
  Australia 47.75 16.73 0.35
2007 Sri Lanka 27.19 15.27 0.56
2007-08 New Zealand 70.33 18.27 0.26
  South Africa 72.29 16.47 0.23
  Pakistan 47.54 22.84 0.48
2008 Australia 38.00 10.90 0.29

The ratio in the last column is obtained by dividing Bangladesh's batting average by the average of the opposition. It will be noted that all these values are less than 1, indicating that on no occasion has Bangladesh been able to match it with the opposition.

Bangladesh batting ratio in ODIs over the years, September 20, 2009
 © ESPNcricinfo Ltd


Bangladesh had some poor results early, particularly against South Africa and Australia, but there was a perceptible improvement from 2004, giving hope that it would soon match it with allcomers. However, they have let the standard lapse significantly in the last year or so, and three of its worst five performances have occurred in the last twelve months.

Using an Excel chart, I plotted these results on a graph, and asked the software to superimpose a trend line. As can be seen in the graphic, the trendline has a negative slope, indicating that Bangladesh's performances are in fact deteriorating. It appears that much work needs to be done with the cricketers in that country yet. With so many big names moving over to the ICL, the task becomes even more difficult for Bangladesh.

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Posted by Ashik Uzzaman on (January 16, 2010, 3:29 GMT)

I hope this article can be revisted now or after the India vs Bangladesh 2 test series finishes by end of January 2010. The progress of Bangladesh will be obvious to you specially how the team is performing in both Test and ODI over the last couple of years...

Posted by Steve Call on (November 15, 2009, 12:25 GMT)

Thank you for this well written post. But I had trouble navigating through your web site as I kept getting 502 bad gateway error. Just thought to let you know.

Posted by zubair on (October 4, 2008, 7:40 GMT)

Rohan, Kenya & Ireland are surely worse than Bangladesh. What made you so doubtful?!

Posted by rohan on (September 28, 2008, 8:44 GMT)

For how long can Bangladesh survive on largesse of the BCCI ? I think it's a shame that Bangladesh is allowed to play Test cricket. My point is are teams like Kenya, Ireland worse than Bangladesh ? If they are given a chance to play Test cricket they will improve considerably. Bangladesh players on the other hand in spite of bad performances behave like superstars. You hear Ashraful saying that his performances will give him a chance to play IPL & Champions league when the fact is he averages poorer than most of the tailenders of other nations. This is when he has scored most of his runs against non-Test playing nations. Its because of BCCI that Bangladesh is holding to its international status otherwise if ICC had showed even a scant respect for cricketing standards then Bangladesh would not be playing international cricket anymore.

Posted by Mark on (September 27, 2008, 18:55 GMT)

I'm afraid that your trend line is not significant. It just comes from the fact that the lowest points are at the end of your data sample and slightly lower than the first few points.

Ric's comment: Doesn't that in itself tell you something!

In fact, statistically, there is no real evidence of a trend there.

That said, you would expect a positive trend over time as Bangladesh's standards rise slowly to those of the longer-standing teams. The fact that despite fanatical support and occasional successes, there is no real upwards trend is very worrying and contrasts sharply with Zimbabwe's first 10 years.

Posted by David Barry on (September 22, 2008, 0:47 GMT)

It's also worth looking at Zimbabwe in the 1990's. Their batting ratio in Tests was typically around 0.8, and occasionally above 1.

Only the 19th century South African "Tests" compare to the consistent woefulness of Bangladesh.

Posted by bradluen on (September 22, 2008, 0:42 GMT)

Just eyeballing the graph, I'm pretty sure the trendline isn't significantly different from zero.

On the plus side for Bangladesh: there isn't enough evidence here to show they're getting worse.

On the minus side for Bangladesh: there *really* isn't any evidence here to show they're getting better.

Posted by Ananth on (September 21, 2008, 13:36 GMT)

Ric My feeling always has been that Bangladesh have been villified far more than they deserve. I do not deny that their results have been very poor. However if one compares the Bangladesh results for the first 50 Tests with other teams which have had poor starts (I can think of India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka et al), this conclusion of mine would either be re-inforced or blown sky-high, once and for all. I request you to do such a comparison. Ananth

Ric's Comment: I am happy to provide those here, Ananth, but I am wary to read too much into such comparisons, because India needed 24 years to play 50 Tests, NZ needed over 30 years, and Sri Lanka needed 12 years. Bangladesh played its 50th Test in just a tad over 7 years, and I would contend that playing such a relatively concentrated programme should result in more improvement than we have seen, given the modern methods, technology and thinking now available to assist development. India won 5, lost 18, drew 27. NZ won 1, lost 26, drew 23. Sri Lanka won 4, lost 22, drew 24. Bangladesh won 1, lost 44, drew 5. You can see that the first three didn't win substantially more than Bangladesh did, but they were much more successful in avoiding defeat.

Posted by Sreeram on (September 21, 2008, 9:39 GMT)

David, I had done the same exercise for Test cricket a few months back but with cumulative averages instead of individual ones. What I found was the lowest point in the batting-ave/bowling-ave was in the series v WI in 2002-3, when Jermaine Lawson took 6 for 3, at which point the batting average was 18.4 and bowling average 60.1. From mid-2003, it improved successively in the series against Pakistan, England and Zimbabwe. It then stagnated and has remained that way till now.

A consistent pattern in Bangladesh's last five series - if you exclude SL - against Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa has been a decent first Test, which was then followed by a terrible second Test which washed away whatever was gained in the previous match.

Posted by Aniruddha on (September 21, 2008, 8:52 GMT)

"With so many big names moving over to the ICL, the task becomes even more difficult for Bangladesh."

I would have thought that with such poor results ever since they have been playing, the ICL walkout will be a blessing for them. After all, all of them have been part of the inconsistent results and at least now they can be thrown out for good and maybe the new players can thrive in a culture bereft of the losers.

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