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From Daniel Stone, United Kingdom
Bangladesh's Test match status has been debated ever since they were awarded full membership by the ICC a little over 11 years ago. Bangladesh played their first Test match in November 2000, and since then have won just three of 72 matches, with a staggering 62 losses. Even those three wins were not much to cheer about, as they came against Zimbabwe and a severely weakened West Indies team.
The team has shown some signs of improvement in ODI cricket over the last few years with a few surprise victories – the 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand at home last October, for example – but in 2011, it has been clear that they are actually taking backward steps.
Bangladesh are too reliant on their world-class allrounder, Shakib Al Hasan, and Tamim Iqbal, one of Wisden’s five cricketers of 2010. Talented youngsters like Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain have shown encouraging signs, but Bangladesh just don't have enough star players to compete with the more established teams.
Mohammad Ashraful's career sums up Bangladesh's performance over the last decade. He showed plenty of promise and was obviously very talented, but he couldn't kick on after a good start due to dodgy technique and temperament. Their 2011 World Cup campaign resulted in them being bowled out for under 100 twice, including an embarrassing 58 all out in Mirpur against an average West Indies attack.
If Bangladesh are severely struggling in their favoured format, then it doesn't bode well for their Test future. There are many areas of concern, but their main problem is the batting. Tamim, seemingly, has tried to emulate Virender Sehwag by scoring run-a-ball centuries and he has been reasonably successful in his short international career to date. Consistency is where he and his team-mates falter.
The batsmen might produce the odd wonder innings but more often than not they fall early in their innings. This is why most of their batting averages are down in the 20s. The batsmen fail to knuckle down and grind out an innings, and this lack of fight is very disappointing to cricket fans around the world. It's as if they don't want to be out there in the middle.
However, it isn't just the batting that is sub-standard. Their bowling also lacks the firepower that is needed for Test cricket. The seam attack is virtually non-existent and five-wicket hauls are as rare as wins. Shakib is a highly skilled spinner, but that he outshines his team-mates even in this aspect is not something to be celebrated.
These cricketers obviously have plenty of talent but during their international careers, they haven't converted that promise into match-winning performances, meaning Bangladesh remain at the bottom of the ladder. That Zimbabwe are showing signs of improvement on their return to Test cricket only heightens the challenge that Bangladesh face. While most countries around them are improving, they appear to be in steady decline.
It is a very sad situation that Bangladeshi cricket is in. Many cricket fans have been willing them to do well over the past decade, but many have now lost faith in the subcontinent outfit. It is likely that they are going nowhere.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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