New Zealand by a freckle
Greetings from Beige Brigade headquarters in deepest, darkest Karori - a part of New Zealand's capital city that is allegedly the largest suburb in the southern hemisphere. It’s lovely to be with you as the new bloke on Different Strokes.
I put my hairy neck on the line before a ball was bowled in the current battle between the team with a firm grip on the wooden spoon in the half-baked Reliance Mobile Test Championship, and another side in the doldrums of the pecking order and just two spots above.
I still honestly thought New Zealand would swagger across to the People's Republic of Bangladesh, a land of rice and reckless batsmen, and destroy them. And I put it in print, albeit masquerading as the intimate and unspoken thoughts of the New Zealand captain.
But the Bangladashis have played pretty well, and the Black Caps (who wear a uniform that might be dark blue) have been a little less than ordinary. The defeat in the one-dayer to start the series was certainly ignominious, and the win completed in the last 24 hours is my nomination for the most painful New Zealand victory in our history of Test cricket.
If I was fair and took off my Ray-Bans to run a few numbers through the abacus, comparing the Test records of the Tigers and the Kiwis man-for-man is a surprisingly sobering task, even for a Beige Brigadier surrounded by amber liquid of various sorts, and theoretically wallowing in a rare New Zealand Test victory.
Witness an analysis using HowSTAT's "team comparison" function, a lick of my own gut feel from watching the grinding series on the gogglebox, and a dash of jiggery pokery.
Redmond v Tamim: These forward defensive addicts have both had less than 10 innings in Test cricket – but Tamim averages 25.33 to Redmond's 19.00. Bangladesh 1, NZ 0.
How v Siddique: Jamie H has this one for New Zealand. The Bengali may have peaked in the one-dayers but with just six runs in the Test, and a total batting existence of just 14 balls. B 1, NZ 1.
Ryder v Saleh: The ‘Deshi is a veteran compared to the media magnet frame of Jesse Ryder. By the end of their respective careers, the Kiwi will have a greater impact on the cricket scene than his rival - but not yet. I'm copping out - this one's a draw. B 1, NZ 1.
Taylor v Ashraful: Another mismatch in size and appetite - Ashraful plays the million-dollar shot relentlessly, but it only comes off one in a million times. Taylor's been below-par with 21 runs in the test but that is 19 more than his rival. B 1, NZ 2.
Flynn vs Mehrab: Both have demonstrated more grit than the Sahara Desert at times during the series, but this one is Mehrab's at present - his average is a couple of lazy digits better than the young Kiwi left-hander and he scored more runs in the Test. B 2, NZ 2.
McCullum vs Mushfiqur: It is McCullum by miles on paper, but he appears to have been taking batting lessons from the Bangladesh captain over the past few weeks - and he received the worst lbw decision in the history of the game yesterday. The rumour this South Island property magnate is distracted by a looming real estate slump in NZ is probably unfair, but he's had his own little slump this week. B 3, NZ 2.
Oram vs Naeem: Big Jacob Oram should snare the allrounder war, although a quirk of statistics sees recent debutant Naeem with a better bowling average after snaring the scalp of Flynn this week. Both were less than effective with the bat. It's a painful draw. B 3, NZ 2.
Vettori vs Shakib: The best No. 8 batsman and left-arm spinner in the history of Test cricket grabs this one after an unbelievable performance, although the Tiger representative was on the hairy shoulder of the bespectacled Italian with both bat and ball in this match. B3, NZ 3.
Mills v Mortaza: Mortaza by a whisker - 1/50 vs 1/101 in the Test. The heat is obviously getting to the New Zealander who was in a permanent state of perspiration/exasperation at Chittagong. B4, NZ 3.
Patel vs Razzak: Razzak might have been the only Bangladeshi to make the IPL but his Test record is ordinary at best. Wellington's finest claims this one with his 4/120 trumping Razzak's 4/144 match figures. B 4, NZ 4.
O'Brien vs Shahadat: Unfashionable but reliable - the NZ skipper is using O'Brien (famous for looking like Dr Cox from the sit-com Scrubs) as his “banker” in Test matches these days. And he’s delivering with determination in spades. The Kiwi has the edge of the honest toilers here and tips the scales in the Black Caps’ favour by a freckle. B 4, NZ 5.
Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here