March 26, 2010

Mike Holmans

A modest triumph

Mike Holmans

"Bangladesh - catching up with the big boys in Test cricket" © Associated Press

Bangladesh v England was a very boring Test series, which represents a triumph, if perhaps a modest one, for Bangladesh.

Five years ago, a Bangladesh Test involved far more action than it should have. There would be a day and a half of their opponents gaily bashing their way to 500-6 or so, surrounded or followed by a day and a half of Bangladeshi batsmen throwing their twenty wickets away like confetti, and the whole ritual would be over in three days.

Now it takes five days to beat Bangladesh. They have enough batsmen with enough gumption to bat extremely boringly in the name of crease occupation and enough bowlers who may not be threatening but can at least bowl a line and length which keeps the runs down for them to have chances of drawing a game. Another fifteen overs batting at Mirpur and England would have needed 250 off 40 overs, which ought to have been possible to defend, which means Bangladesh came quite close to achieving a draw, which is by no means bad. If they had been luckier with the umpiring, England could well have had to bat for more than a day to get 350, which would have been an even more interesting prospect.

Five years ago, Mohammad Rafique was their only Test-class player; Habibul Bashar was thought to be, but he rightly acquired the nickname “Habitual Basher” and was soon shown to be nothing but a slogger. Now they have three definites and a couple of probables.

Shakib is that rare beast, the genuine Test all-rounder: with the possible exception of Sri Lanka, who might not have room for a slow-left-arm-bowling all rounder, and New Zealand who already have one, any Test side would be happy to pick him, and he would be worth his place in either discipline.

Tamim Iqbal will spend his career being criticised for throwing his wicket away, but since he is liable to have scored at least fifty runs before doing it, the criticism will miss the point. In the time he is at the crease, he can wreak havoc. Alastair Cook was clearly thrown badly off-course during his first-morning assault in the second Test, and such impact can make it easier for his batting partners. Well, some of them at least, because there is no helping Imrul Kayes, who is clearly not up to batting at Test level. But Tamim's ambition is clearly to be Virender Sehwag when he grows up, and there's little reason to suppose that he can't do it.

Mushfiqur Rahim is another class batsman with a rather more admirable temperament for Test cricket. He has some nice shots but also showed his tenacity and ability to bat for long periods. On the other hand, his wicketkeeping leaves much to be desired, being no better than that of Rahul Dravid or Marcus Trescothick, stand-ins who kept in ODIs in order to accommodate extra bowlers.

Junaid Siddique gained a lot of confidence from his maiden Test hundred at Chittagong and played very nicely at Mirpur, but I'm still suspicious that he can only cope with Test-class bowling on pitches which have been drained of all life. Mahmudullah, or “Armadillo” as my wife calls him, may have some talent too, but much more evidence is needed.

That is at least the nucleus of a team.

In cycling terms, they have still not caught up with the peloton, but the peloton is very much in view. One boost, and they will be there. That boost needs to be the discovery of a new bowler, preferably a quick, who is at least as good as Mashrafe Mortaza was before he broke down, seemingly irretrievably.

Without such a bowler, they have almost no chance of bowling a decent side out twice, which means that they are very unlikely to win any matches, but the coming years should see them drawing on a fairly regular basis. Bangladesh are no longer a hopeless joke team who should not be playing Test cricket, but a weak team who still need to do a lot of work, much like New Zealand in the 1930s. Achieving that milestone is a triumph.

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Posted by Bijit on (June 13, 2010, 8:49 GMT)

I think test cricket will be extinct by the time Bangladesh learns how to play it. Tamim is doing the right thing by scoring as many runs as quickly possible. who knows when Bangladesh will be off their test status. its much better to give up cricket than playing a test against Afghanistan and losing it someday.

Its not the ability of Bangladeshi players to play better, its their mentality. Until they change their attitude and start believing that they can beat the opposition, there aren't any hope.

Posted by mahfuz on (May 26, 2010, 14:54 GMT)

tamim break the that was supposed to be broken by S. Anwar. saeed anwar retired 2 early. T. Iqbal is a duplicate of S anwar. Such lovely player to watch. 1 shot from tamim would trilling to watch , such lovely timer best, best, best , the best TAMIM IS THE BEST.

Posted by saleh mazumder on (May 9, 2010, 20:53 GMT)

sunny you say whatever it wont change any fact or the future of Bangladesh cricket. your this analysis is worthless. before you comments have you count the average age of Bangladesh cricket team??? 23. I am wondering how they will play at the age of ave: 28, predicting the no one test playing nation in asia. dont think so ??? note it down.

Posted by Rashu on (April 10, 2010, 17:22 GMT)

To procyni and Giza, I think you have no idea about international cricket. Bangladesh has beaten every major nations except England and they were very closed to beat them a few days ago. Your favourite Ireland has beaten only pakistan and Bangladesh in WC,2007. They also beat Bangladesh in T20 WC, besides they have no major success. They lost to Afghanistan a few days ago. Do you know they were clean sweeped by Bangladesh in Bangladesh 2008. Kenya has beaten some major but their last major win is 6 years ago. They were also clan sweeped by BD in home and abroad in 2006.How you can write such kinds of foolish opinion ?I think you have no idea about ICC ranking. Do you know Shakib is the number 1 allrounder in ODI and 3in Test format. Mushfiq is the 2nd ranked wicket keeper batter in test after Dhoni ahead of Haddin ,Boucher and Ur favourite Prior. Tamim is also appreciated by many batting legends. Ya we have some problems in our cricket administation but we are improving

Posted by Daniel on (April 6, 2010, 9:47 GMT)

Sunny mate...Bangladesh in comparison to most other test playin nations are poor as a test unit, I'll give u that, we can't take 20 wickets at our own backyards...v ain't blaming umpires mistakes for that...but 4 wat is worth this side is very young both by age and number of games they played, perhaps the onus is upon the better teams to play against us, If u luk at our test or even odi matches to b playd dis year ull realise how little we get to play agaist the best of game. We ain't happy losing ESP the players out there who toil under the sun knowing they have been written off, even before a ball has been bowled!!! That the mental strength of our players we appluad...winning is tuff but to show up and play against all odds and give your ur best is worthy of appreciation. V ain't winning n never will till v learn by fighting n struggling against the best...all the best to boys in green dese hard toilin days shall 1 day pay dividends:)

Posted by hj on (March 29, 2010, 7:22 GMT)

sunny i think you are right.your comments are true.sometimes the bangladeshis do things in the field which is not at all accepted.i am sorry if i am rude about english cricket.but the bangladeshis are slowly progressing.i know afew good shots can never win the game but at least they are trying to play those.you are right about low expectations.but a few years back we nearly gave up any expectations.i think problem of bd cricket is their administration.the icc should keep a good eye on the administration.and for the players,i think they should be given more facilities to improve their game and should stick together to grow as ateam.the other countries should help bangladesh to develop their cricket.it will be good for cricket itself

Posted by Sunny on (March 28, 2010, 7:25 GMT)

@hj….look, if truth be told I am a fan of BD cricket and it is my frustration of seeing the slow progress being made by BD that spills over into my comments. I just get the feeling that BD demand so little of themselves that they are pleased with sub standard performance when they can do better. Many BD fans seem satisfied to see lots of good shots but lose the match and do not appreciate the true meaning of test cricket where two countries are pitched in a battle, albeit in a cricket field. You talk of England’s rankings and whether they are good. The point is not whether they are good but that you will always know that you are playing test cricket when you play them. The England eleven may not be the best that ever played but they will fight to win a match or to save it. That is not what Bangladeshis do.. they focus on a few good personal performances and the fans are happy and the administration (filled with mediocre cricketers) are happy. If you are a BD fan you should demand more

Posted by hj on (March 28, 2010, 5:08 GMT)

sunny i think you have missed the entire point.i do believe that china should get test status because ihave read about their fast developing cricketers.the sucess of indian team has been achieved because of their fastly developing infastructure.but if they didnt have 1b cricket fanatic then i think this sucess coudnt have been achieved .england probably have the oldest and strongest domestic structure but stil they havent won the world cup and they are not amongst the top 3teams inthe test arenna.they have(english) all the tallent in the world but ithink they are missing the x factor.thats the problem with the bangladeshis too.and sunny another fact i want you to see shakibs bowling figures in the second test . i think his efforts in the match will tell you something

Posted by Min on (March 27, 2010, 21:49 GMT)

Wait and see BD will show some sparks very soon again, just bare in mind BD won against all the major countrys apart from England and that will happen near future!

Posted by Sunny on (March 27, 2010, 19:01 GMT)

..some hyper comments which has forced me to write again..

@bbb..of the 10 "slow left arm bowlers who are skilled enough to play at international standards" Razzak must be the best to have made it to the final eleven and his analyses suggests that he take a wicket every 20 overs giving away 70 runs for each wicket in tests!! cannot think of a worst analyses for a specialist bowler at test level!

@hj..presumably you think China is deserving of test status based on their billion+ population of which 15% who might love cricket! just having large population who love cricket should not be the criteria if the players themselves are sub standard. They do not pose any "test" for their opponents and demean the game.

Bangladesh Cricket fans should get real and stop believing their own hype. Unless they identify the problem they can never devise a solution! The problem lies with their infrastructure (or lack of it), their poor quality administration and players lacking mental strength!

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