April 27, 2011

What Bangladesh could learn from Sri Lanka's success

Sri Lankan cricket has its problems, but it is overall a success and born of a system worth emulating
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Amidst the furore about the next World Cup - or glorified Champions Trophy as it has become - it's important not to lose sight of the perilous position of the game in some of the 10 supposedly established countries. Even putting aside New Zealand, a nation with a proud tradition of overachieving on the cricket field, and Pakistan, whose difficulties are in part out of their hands, an alarming number of the cricketing powerhouses continue to stumble from crisis to crisis.

Certainly the game's think tank cannot depend on the sustainability of the game in Zimbabwe and West Indies, or for that matter on the African continent. Meanwhile Bangladesh, a packed country with zeal for the game, is taking much longer than expected to add strength to its depth.

As far as the top 10 nations are concerned, it's easier to list the places where the game retains its hold than those struggling along. Accordingly authorities need to keep a close eye on developments in these lands. To that end they need to put self-interest and mutual back-slapping aside.

Certainly complacency is to be resisted. At present India has its strongest ever side and its greatest ever champion. Only the smug will assume that another Sachin Tendulkar and another Virender Sehwag wait at every street corner in every village in that vast and sprawling location. History indicates that these are exceptional talents and extraordinary entertainers. Quite possibly they are as irreplaceable as Brian Lara and Andy Flower. It would be folly to take even India for granted.

Of course the problems in the tottering nations vary and it can be left to the local experts to provide a compelling analysis. From a distance Bangladesh is the most disconcerting.

Admittedly the game's newest Test nation staggers under the weight of poverty and tragedy. As has often been mentioned in this column, cricket is not played by a bunch of affable and organised nations, but rather knows as much enmity as amity. Until that point is recognised and its implications accepted, cricket will continue to speak in many tongues.

By limiting investment and reducing accessibility - in the strongest nations the game has moved away from blue blood to red blood, but nowhere can it embrace empty stomachs - poverty has a profound effect on the well-being of a game. Even so Bangladesh seems to have enough talent at its disposal to make a bigger impact. Instead the national team remain lightweight.

Obviously a week's visit during the course of a World Cup campaign does not offer sufficient exposure to a community to form firm opinions, let alone to suggest possible remedies. So long as the ears are working as well as the eyes, though, much can be gleaned in a short period.

Two points stood out as the Bangladesh battled to give their huge contingent of supporters something to cheer. The first came from a headline appearing in a local paper a few days after the team had been knocked out. It was a story announcing that Shakib Al Hasan, the team's captain, was celebrating his 24th birthday that day. And he has been in office for quite some time.

Except for Alexander the Great, Pitt the Younger, Mozart, and a handful of other prodigies, 23 is not much of an age. Readers are invited to reflect on their own capacities at such a juncture. Can any amongst us emerge unscathed? By most reckonings cricketers, especially batsmen and spinners, reach their peak in their late twenties, when brain and feet are both working properly. Shakib is developing his skills and at the same time trying to satisfy a vast audience and maintain optimism in the dressing room. It is a tall order for anyone, let alone an inexperienced youngster.

Not to say that he was the wrong choice as captain. On the contrary the problem is that his nomination might very well have been correct. Examining the Bangladesh team, it's not easy to find an alternative. Simply the side is young and somewhat naïve. The results remind observers that ability alone is never enough.

Clearly the main problem in Bangladesh cricket is the lack of proven senior players, men to rely on in tough times. Give them the Husseys, for example, and in a trice the side might seem altogether harder to beat. No country can control the production of champions but a core of senior players ought to be possible. It is the lack of them that holds Bangladesh back.

And not that country alone. Successive West Indian coaches have complained not so much about the dearth of senior men as about their failure to set an example. The odds of all these coaches being wrong are long.

Somehow the Lankans have managed to promote diversity and imagination and along the way to produce a steady stream of high-class performers. No team in living memory has contained as many original players and characters. Just to watch them bowl is to accept the point

Bangladesh's inability to produce players in their thirties who are able to sustain the team while the youngsters learn their trade points towards a deeper problem. Evidently domestic structures are not producing, let alone retaining, the sort of professional players able to sort out the next generation, the cussed characters to be found in grade cricket in Australia (though less so these days, and thereby hangs a tale).

Plain and simple, Bangladesh's weakness lies not in the representative team but in the production line. Club cricket is neither rewarding nor competitive enough. Not even the prospect of having to give up playing for their country could prevent older players signing up for the rebel ICL. A generation was lost to that independent league. Although those players were eventually allowed back, they had lost their edge and none completely recovered his form. It's unfair to criticise them for spurning their country for money without knowledge of their predicaments. Perhaps they were motivated not by a fondness for Armani suits but by the need to build a future for their families.

But losses to the ICL and a lazy lifestyle alone cannot explain the weakness in the senior ranks of Bangladesh cricket. Clearly the domestic cricket is not sufficiently demanding, and so does not prepare players for the next step, let alone the highest challenges. Again the Bangladeshis might not be alone in that failing. Conceivably Zimbabwe and West Indies suffer from the same softness. Nor is it easily remedied. Indeed it takes a lot of hard work and investment in pitches, schools, coaches and so forth.

Perhaps Bangladesh and the other struggling countries might consider studying the experiences of more successful cricketing nations. In that regard Sri Lanka might be the most relevant community because it has things in common with Bangladesh and West Indies in particular. Notwithstanding its relative rawness at the top level and a small population (roughly 20 million), and never mind its documented complications and the numerous trials and tribulations in the cricket community, and the undue influence exerted by the politicians (not least recently - the row with the BCCI was reportedly engineered by an especially dense sports minister), Sri Lanka continue to compete with, and often defeat, the powerhouses.

Accordingly Bangladesh and the ICC ought to send a working party to report on the rise and retained virility of Lankan cricket. Failure is indeed instructive but success can also tell a tale. Nor is it sensible to let misgivings about one aspect of a country or its cricket prevent recognition of achievements in other areas.

Somehow the Lankans have managed to promote diversity and imagination and along the way to produce a steady stream of high-class performers. Like the Indians, they have been lucky with their senior players, but it cannot begin and end with them. No team in living memory, and none, it may be supposed, outside works of fiction, has contained as many original players and characters. Just to watch them bowl is to accept the point.

Plainly, too, the game has grown rapidly beyond its base of a few select Colombo schools into the hinterlands of place, faith and background. In part the old schools themselves have adapted to changing times by widening their reach. After all St Joseph's Catholic School, Chaminda Vaas' alma mater (by all accounts he was regularly thrown out of the commerce class; one local dryly observed that he has improved in that arena), still has representatives in the national squad. But though the matches between leading schools still dominate newspapers, attract big crowds and produce players, the base has widened considerably.

Increasingly modern players prove themselves not with the rudimentary facilities provided by even the top schools but in the adult exchanges of clubs and regions. Apparently, too, the Test men turn out domestically.

Whatever the causes - and doubtless several others could be mentioned - Sri Lanka's performance has been impressive and can serve as a model for those still striving to make their mark. Both the ICC and individual boards ought to take note.

My opposition to the ten-team World Cup is well known. But it might not stop at 10. Cricket in the Caribbean and Zimbabwe might continue to flounder. Bangladesh might remain immature in 2015. No one can forecast events in Pakistan. The IPL flourishes but the overall position is much weaker than it currently seems.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • enigma77543 on April 30, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    @Worthless Rakib, I'm just not willing to believe that Ban with all their interest in cricket can't produce enough "class-players"; of course, infrastructure needs to be improved & all that but the biggest issue from my POV (& as has been pointed out by Ban coach) is the slow pitches which neither encourage good batsmanship nor good bowling. Talented young batters need some pace in the pitch to work with to become better batsmen & fulfill their potential, talented young bowlers (even good spinners) need some pace in the pitch to develop their bowling skills. Hence, just improving this one thing, I believe, will allow Ban to produce better teams with more "class-players" in the future; their pitches just need some life.

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on April 29, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    Also as Lord.emsworth rightly said we had Ranatunga. Ranatunga ranks up there with Imran Khan, Clive Lloyd and Border as one of the finest cricket captains ever. Mind you we had a very long civil war, and most of our recent cricketers spent their childhoods admist bombing and heavy fighting - there were times when you can't be sure of returning home alive after a practice session. However, it (the war) also battle-hardened our players and provided them with a steely mentality, that is needed to succeed in international cricket.

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on April 29, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    What a patronising article! Yes Mr. Roebuck, Sri Lanka may not be considered a powerhouse in Indian, English, Australian and SA circles but we'll leave them all rolling in mud when we play at home. No country barring Australia has a better one day and Test record at home (after '96). We would be a bigger force away from home if the other cricket boards give us enough Tests. No one gives us a 4 Test series, we're not seen as crowd pullers, that's why. Yes, our infrastucture is weak and our domestic cricket is weak too, but we manage to produce cricketing geniuses because of excellent man-management. Our A-team and under-19's are the best organised among all feeder teams. We give players enough chances without undue pressure of being dropped. No wonder they develop into world class cricketers over time. We're an underestimated force, an underestimated powerhouse. God save Lanka, peace.

  • stormy16 on April 29, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    I must say when I saw the current crop of Bangledesh players as 20 year olds at 2007 WC I imagined they would be a fair threat at home in 2011 but sadly it was not the case. Take Ul Hassana and Tamin out and the side is little more than a club side. I am not sure what the difference in SL is but at the lower age levels (Under 19) Bangledesh have beated SL a few times so presumably the foundation is there but as suggested in the article, its porbably the club level game that is letting Bangladesh down.

  • Balumekka on April 29, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    ..........World Class batsmen, Arguably the Best Allrounder in the game, best offie, and another great allrounder in making..............Are we speaking about SA, Aussies, IND, PAK or Sri Lanka????? The best that you can do to yourself to improve is to realistically understand the present situation and start rebuilding from that level.....

  • Meety on April 29, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    @eshwarvenkatam - dunno if Ireland would beat the Bangas 6/10 times. At the moment the head to head I think is 5/2 in Bangas favour. What I do agree is that like Zimbabwe, (even Kenya) in the late 90s & early 2000s - they use fielding as a tool to level the contest against the big boys. Ireland are just about the best fielding team in the world & that will make them competitive. They do have better pace bowling. I would say the Bangas are better everywhere else even if Eoin Morgan plays for Ireland.

  • QTS_ on April 28, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    Before being considered as a deserving member of the top half of world cricket, Bangladesh needs to get into the bottom half. Recent signs do indicate that they are getting there. Performances against WI, NZ and England support the claim, as do performance analyses of these teams in the same period. The temporary eighth rank in ODI's did not come from spurious performances, but from a sustained effort. Compared to being grouped with Zimbabwe in the lowest rung of the top ten four years ago, this is an encouraging improvement.

  • naim_bd on April 28, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    it is more than 10 years in test arena for us but we are yet to win a match against a real test team. though ODI performance is relatively better, win against test playing countries is still an occasional event. we can name only shakib and tamim to have some impact on world cricket(you can not consider ashraful who plays some spectacular innings on rare ocassions and mashrafee who is unfortunately busy in fighting with cronic inuries). and a loads of such negetive things follow. but the only thing that caused all these is, in my opinion, poor domestic cricket infrustructure for which we, supporters,media and cricket organisers are crying for years. but there is seemingly no one in the cricket board to bother.

  • eshwarmv on April 28, 2011, 14:03 GMT

    Seeing the way the Irish have performed, it seems they can surely defeat Bangladesh in 6 out of 10 matches. There discipline, behaviour, on field approach, and attitude are far more mature than the Bangladeshis. The Bangladesh players have got some great skills, they just seem to play for themselves, rather than the team. Only a few players in the squad seem to have that maturity. Bangladesh must play more test cricket to develop this area.

  • mrgupta on April 28, 2011, 13:46 GMT

    @Meety: There is nothing wrong in being confident, but with a World Class batsmen, Arguably the Best Allrounder in the game, best offie, and another great allrounder in making (Mahmudullah) BD has Won just 2 out of 10 Test matches since Jan 2009. That too against a hugely depleted and totally inexperienced WI side. Also they have Won only 3 ODI out of 21 against Top 6 Ranking teams. They have not Won a single match against India, Aus, SA and Pak in last 4 years! This record does not give any indication of a great team in making. They are talented and hard Working but by no means they are among top teams right now and it doesnt look like they will be even in next 5 years until their attitude is changed. First thing is their Captain should start accepting defeats and stop saying he is happy to make close to 300 against a top team even though they still loose by big margins.

  • enigma77543 on April 30, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    @Worthless Rakib, I'm just not willing to believe that Ban with all their interest in cricket can't produce enough "class-players"; of course, infrastructure needs to be improved & all that but the biggest issue from my POV (& as has been pointed out by Ban coach) is the slow pitches which neither encourage good batsmanship nor good bowling. Talented young batters need some pace in the pitch to work with to become better batsmen & fulfill their potential, talented young bowlers (even good spinners) need some pace in the pitch to develop their bowling skills. Hence, just improving this one thing, I believe, will allow Ban to produce better teams with more "class-players" in the future; their pitches just need some life.

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on April 29, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    Also as Lord.emsworth rightly said we had Ranatunga. Ranatunga ranks up there with Imran Khan, Clive Lloyd and Border as one of the finest cricket captains ever. Mind you we had a very long civil war, and most of our recent cricketers spent their childhoods admist bombing and heavy fighting - there were times when you can't be sure of returning home alive after a practice session. However, it (the war) also battle-hardened our players and provided them with a steely mentality, that is needed to succeed in international cricket.

  • TheBigFatFlapjack on April 29, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    What a patronising article! Yes Mr. Roebuck, Sri Lanka may not be considered a powerhouse in Indian, English, Australian and SA circles but we'll leave them all rolling in mud when we play at home. No country barring Australia has a better one day and Test record at home (after '96). We would be a bigger force away from home if the other cricket boards give us enough Tests. No one gives us a 4 Test series, we're not seen as crowd pullers, that's why. Yes, our infrastucture is weak and our domestic cricket is weak too, but we manage to produce cricketing geniuses because of excellent man-management. Our A-team and under-19's are the best organised among all feeder teams. We give players enough chances without undue pressure of being dropped. No wonder they develop into world class cricketers over time. We're an underestimated force, an underestimated powerhouse. God save Lanka, peace.

  • stormy16 on April 29, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    I must say when I saw the current crop of Bangledesh players as 20 year olds at 2007 WC I imagined they would be a fair threat at home in 2011 but sadly it was not the case. Take Ul Hassana and Tamin out and the side is little more than a club side. I am not sure what the difference in SL is but at the lower age levels (Under 19) Bangledesh have beated SL a few times so presumably the foundation is there but as suggested in the article, its porbably the club level game that is letting Bangladesh down.

  • Balumekka on April 29, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    ..........World Class batsmen, Arguably the Best Allrounder in the game, best offie, and another great allrounder in making..............Are we speaking about SA, Aussies, IND, PAK or Sri Lanka????? The best that you can do to yourself to improve is to realistically understand the present situation and start rebuilding from that level.....

  • Meety on April 29, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    @eshwarvenkatam - dunno if Ireland would beat the Bangas 6/10 times. At the moment the head to head I think is 5/2 in Bangas favour. What I do agree is that like Zimbabwe, (even Kenya) in the late 90s & early 2000s - they use fielding as a tool to level the contest against the big boys. Ireland are just about the best fielding team in the world & that will make them competitive. They do have better pace bowling. I would say the Bangas are better everywhere else even if Eoin Morgan plays for Ireland.

  • QTS_ on April 28, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    Before being considered as a deserving member of the top half of world cricket, Bangladesh needs to get into the bottom half. Recent signs do indicate that they are getting there. Performances against WI, NZ and England support the claim, as do performance analyses of these teams in the same period. The temporary eighth rank in ODI's did not come from spurious performances, but from a sustained effort. Compared to being grouped with Zimbabwe in the lowest rung of the top ten four years ago, this is an encouraging improvement.

  • naim_bd on April 28, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    it is more than 10 years in test arena for us but we are yet to win a match against a real test team. though ODI performance is relatively better, win against test playing countries is still an occasional event. we can name only shakib and tamim to have some impact on world cricket(you can not consider ashraful who plays some spectacular innings on rare ocassions and mashrafee who is unfortunately busy in fighting with cronic inuries). and a loads of such negetive things follow. but the only thing that caused all these is, in my opinion, poor domestic cricket infrustructure for which we, supporters,media and cricket organisers are crying for years. but there is seemingly no one in the cricket board to bother.

  • eshwarmv on April 28, 2011, 14:03 GMT

    Seeing the way the Irish have performed, it seems they can surely defeat Bangladesh in 6 out of 10 matches. There discipline, behaviour, on field approach, and attitude are far more mature than the Bangladeshis. The Bangladesh players have got some great skills, they just seem to play for themselves, rather than the team. Only a few players in the squad seem to have that maturity. Bangladesh must play more test cricket to develop this area.

  • mrgupta on April 28, 2011, 13:46 GMT

    @Meety: There is nothing wrong in being confident, but with a World Class batsmen, Arguably the Best Allrounder in the game, best offie, and another great allrounder in making (Mahmudullah) BD has Won just 2 out of 10 Test matches since Jan 2009. That too against a hugely depleted and totally inexperienced WI side. Also they have Won only 3 ODI out of 21 against Top 6 Ranking teams. They have not Won a single match against India, Aus, SA and Pak in last 4 years! This record does not give any indication of a great team in making. They are talented and hard Working but by no means they are among top teams right now and it doesnt look like they will be even in next 5 years until their attitude is changed. First thing is their Captain should start accepting defeats and stop saying he is happy to make close to 300 against a top team even though they still loose by big margins.

  • Praxis on April 28, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    In Bangladesh its the local cricket clubs that give the young guys their first chance. However the coaches aren't good enough, facilities are poor too. Only natural talent and hard work gets them through to the next level. But the biggest concern till now is the quick bowlers, the condition doesn't suit them, pitches are made more suitable for the spinners too. Obviously the current crop would never be able to meet the standard. Unfortunately I can't remember any mentionable steps taken by the BCB in the past decade. There were this one pacer-hunt programme that were successful in spotting a few talent like Shafiul Islam.

  • crickstats on April 28, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    @ARad Fair comment, Sri Lanka bound to struggle in tests without wicket taking bowlers, they are still to win a test after Murali retired. However, Randiv more promising than Mendis and fast bowlers have been cropping after Chaminda Vaas. We'd love to see Nuwan Pradeep bowling

  • QTS_ on April 28, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    @Meety: This is somewhat off-topic, but I did notice that you have at various times provided detailed analyses on Bangladesh and Ireland, as well as meticulous evaluations of the Ashes teams and results. Just wondering how you kept track of so much at a time. Cheers.

  • QTS_ on April 28, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    @Worthless Rakib: Except maybe Rafique, the other seniors from the mid 2000's lost their places owing to form (remember the widespread cries to drop Bashar in mid-2007?). Not everyone can undergo a resurrection of the Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, Lara type in his late 30's. And true that there were not many quality players in the pipeline, but that is palpably changing (or has changed) now. As mentioned in my previous post, the ICL rebels were readily replaced and the replacements have not been discarded since. As another case-in-point, Bangladesh can now afford to leave out Ashraful from any high-profile match (imagine the odds in 2007). On the final point speculating on the aftermath of a crisis akin to the Zimbabwean situation, note that the cricket interest / fever in Bangladesh simply cannot be doused. If it were possible, it would have died down in the dreary early 2000's. This is one trump card Bangladesh possesses over most other cricketing nations - the permanence of interest.

  • on April 28, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    I agree with Peter. There are not much class player in Pipeline here to represent National team. Once national players drop from squad due to bad form, they rarely make a strong come back in Domestic due to poor structure & new comer aren't mature enough. We lost Bashar, Omar, Mashud too early. It's very tough for a poor country like BD to launch strong school cricket structure but can make a strong domestic structure. There's no problem with number of domestic sides (6 divisions). Even Aussies, kiwis have same no. of teams & Proteus have the same few years back. But our problem with the Format & Infrastructure. Ex-National players like Rafiq, Mahmud, Mashud, Omar can be given role of Coaching permanently for Divisional teams. Bashar, Akram could do same if they weren't appointed as National Selector. All that we need is the strong structure, proper & effective training in Grass-root level. Otherwise any political crisis like Zim can destroy cricket here.

  • enigma77543 on April 28, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    @Meety, obviously, you don't want promotion/relegation in Tests because Ban wouldn't be able to retain their Test-status then. But to me, it is essential to keep Tests competitive & financially viable that even the top teams are not allowed to get complacent. I don't want a tiered "easy to get into" system because that'd dilute the quality of Test-cricket, not to mention, it'd be financially unviable as there're only 10 teams, at best, that can reasonably pull their financial burdens while all the others are just sponging off of them so if these financially unviable Associates are promoted "easily" to Test-cricket then who'd bear their financial burdens, especially considering that Tests are losing popularity even in bigger Test-nations due to mismatched series? A tiered system just wouldn't be a financially viable model. BTW, Ban have'd 4-day FC structure for almost a decade so its not that recent but obviously it's not competitive enough to produce competitive Test-teams.

  • ARad on April 28, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Sri Lanka has overachieved but Sri Lanka is not without any problems. How many SL players under the age of 33 are very good? Malinga is good but injury prone. Good teams appeared to have already figure out Mendis. Angelo Mathews is still more of a promising player than a finished article. Others such as Randiv and Tissara Perera are yet to establish themselves. Most importantly, bowlers win Test matches and Sri Lankan attack, without Murali, does not look like it will be consistently capable of taking 20 wickets against good teams and Sangakkara and Mahela, the two truly world class players still playing in the longer format of the game, aren't getting any younger.

  • on April 28, 2011, 2:45 GMT

    I think one of the issues which is not looked at is the lack of organised club cricket and playing fields for young cricketers. If you are 13-14 in Bangladesh, and eager to play the game, you have to initially satisfy yourself mostly by playing street cricket with a "tape tennis" ball, and opportunities for "breaking out" of this are limited and haphazard. BCB should approcah the Government and take over a good number playing fields from municipalities in cities and towns throughout the country, and use sponsorship to develop cricket fields with properly maintained pitches, nets and clubhouses. If we can have at least 50-60 such fields throughout the country within 5 years, where clubs of young cricketers have access, I think it will be only a matter of one gereration before the nation's enthusiasm for the game is translated to success on the field. If the Bangladesh cricket team is even half as good as our love for the game, the World should watch out.

  • Shafi79 on April 28, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    Also one more thing about Bangladesh, they may have some talented players but their attitude is all wrong. All you need to do is look at the statements made by Shakib to the press ... he still gives the indication that its ok to lose ... its a pity somone of his talent should have an attitude that you always go for the win, in the process you may go down in flames every now and then .. its ok. But instead at times this Bangladesh team just doesnt bother competing (Like recently against AUS when they were chasing 350 or so i think)

  • on April 27, 2011, 23:37 GMT

    It would be a very difficult task for Bangladesh to emulate Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Cricketing prowess comes from the strength of it's School cricket. School Cricket even more than Club cricket produces young talent. For example my own Alma mater, Ananda College, had produced Arjuna Ranatunga, Thilan Samaraweera, Marvan Attapattu, Sidath Wettimuny, Brendan Kuruppu, Dulip Samaraweera, etc and more recently Mahela Udawatte to name a few. Similarly our brother School and main rival, Nalanda College had produced Mahela Jayawardena, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinghe, Kumar Darmasena. This is the grass root level development that Bangladesh need to start off with.

  • Meety on April 27, 2011, 23:34 GMT

    @UndergroundMan - I agree mate. The "core" Bangladesh have now, topped with some more talent over time, will be VERY competitive within 5yrs. Tamim is a world class batsmen, Shakib, arguably the best allrounder in the game, Rahim is a top class Keeper, Razzaq is about as good as any offie in the world & Mahmudullah I think could eventually be as good as Shakib. The only thing missing in that is PACE. Mortaza if fully fit is okay, but he is way better then the next best pacers. I think players like Kayes & Siddique & Nafees could develop into good test cricketers, so they are not far off being tough opposition. Get 2 good pace bowlers & they will win a heck of a lot more games. @ maddy20 - they have only recently created a 4-Day 1st class structure & so the results will come. @enigma77543 - don't agree that relegation/promotion is the way to go in the sense of you have Test status now you don't. I would like to see s tiered Test structure. Easy to promote sides into a low division.

  • QTS_ on April 27, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Peter Roebuck's analysis points out some key deficiencies, particularly senior players not being able to sustain for long. Looking at the current lineup, the senior most are Mashrafe and Ashraful, playing since 2000/01. Next is Razzak from 2004. Shakib and Tamim are from mid to late 2006. The rest came later. Given the chopping and changing (and ICL), a consistent core has not been established... till now. The current lineup is similar to what was formed after the ICL exodus in 2008. Most of the substitute for the ICL rebels are still regular participants (Roqibul, Imrul, Naeem). And most of the notable results (even excluding the WI whitewash) have been achieved through this team. Apart from victories against England and New Zealand in recent times, the fights that were put up in Tests deserve praise. While this dawn indicates a brighter morning, attention must be paid to the pace attack. The current one, with or without Mashrafe, leak too many runs.

  • on April 27, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    Commonly, alien cricket-blogger don't deliberate over the historical background of Bangladeshi cricket, even just write article based on recent series result or on his glance over the Dhaka city only. No doubt, Peter's analyzed elaborately, and expressed his view logically. Ok, ICL might dismiss Alok-Aftab-Habibul-Nafiz-Tapos generation. How was Durjoi-Shariar-Biduth-Meharab retired before 25-26 years age old? Still, some of them could continue in current Bangladeshi team. One decade ago, there was hot competitive Dhaka based domestic league in where top international players would play. Where is that league? Yes, Bangladeshi cricket can learn from Lanka. Whatever, more importantly, they should learn from their past also.

  • on April 27, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    The ex-cricketer actually needs to come to aid. almost all become businessman after retirement. still, politicians becoming cricket board head & controlling everything is really the main problem. well that's also the problem of the whole country, I really find no hope.

  • Rahulbose on April 27, 2011, 19:52 GMT

    I would not worry about Bangladesh. The crowd support shown during the WC was so overwhelming it cannot have been manufactured. Surely in a cricket crazy nation such as this some talents are going to come up. Plus with the success of IPL, players can gain experience and financial security much faster now. What is needed is investment in grass root facilities and support of cricket clubs and school training programs.

  • maddy20 on April 27, 2011, 19:17 GMT

    Bangaldesh needsto build a stong first class circuit and the champions will come eventually. Until then they will keep scraping to wins against minnows and will continue to be pulverized by stronger teams

  • Nipun on April 27, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    @ Arindam Mukherjee :- Don't worry,I'll be there to comment on any Bangladesh news cricket.Make sure you are there when you see Bangladesh cricket stagnant,if not regressed,in the foreseeable future :) @ all "talent" praisers :- Talent is not about hitting two or three glorious shots in an innings,nor is it about playing one good innings every year.

  • on April 27, 2011, 17:31 GMT

    the thing is, stop politics in and within BCB, Bangladesh cricket will be at far better position in few years

  • Balumekka on April 27, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    Sri Lanka's success is due to the excellent school cricket system, where talented players identified from all parts of the island and handled by a good coaching system at under 11, 13 and 15 levels. At present, Sri Lanka produces most number of un-conventional , yet successful cricketers thanks to the coaches who do not over manipulate players. Sri Lanka was so lucky to have a captain like Arjuna and a vice captain like Aravinda for a long period of time. Before Arjuna's captaincy, Sri Lankan cricketers never came out of minnow attitude. Arjuna always believed Sri Lankan cricketers are no lesser than any cricketing giant, and was not afraid to be aggressive against any opposition specially Aussies. Aravinda, a true class player himself, lifted standards of the team. Class breed of players like Murali, Jayasuriya, Sanga, Mahela and Vass got shelter from these players to lift the standards of the whole team. SL national team selected from 20 million people, in BD its from 156 million!!!!

  • on April 27, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    Even as an outsider, I'd be inclined to agree with a few points. Bangladesh has no dearth of talent but consistent good cricket needs talent tempered with tenacity. Tamim can provide a start like Jayasuriya,Gilchrist or Sehwag but some days he will fail - that's when we need a Aravinda DeSilva, Huseey or Tendulkar like presence to gauge the game and defend or attack as required. Remember their win against AUS? Ashraful was magnificent but Bashar held the other end .. and he still remains one with 2nd highest test avg. ( which is only in 30s ). And they need to stop playing ZIM and WI for bilateral series .. compete with the big boys to know how the game is played at the elite level.

  • enigma77543 on April 27, 2011, 16:30 GMT

    Obviously, these countries' woes stem from a lack of competitive domestic-cricket & thus, having them play Test-matches & getting thrashed by bigger teams hardly does any service to them or to the popularity & viability of Tests. ICC needs a promotion/relegation-system in Tests, ICC ratings can be used for this purpose with a pre-defined range with teams below the range losing their Test-status & a route to regaining it by playing in ICC events designated for the purpose. Having permanent Test-status only makes teams complacent while promotion/relegation would give ALL teams something to strive for & keep Test-cricket competitive. ICC could organise a 4-day event between 3 top "non-Test" teams & 3 strong domestic or A-teams from stronger Test-nations competing in a 6-team 15-match event, the performance in which would be considered for the purpose of promoting the national-teams to Test-status every 2 years while simultaneously these events would help strengthen minnows as well.

  • on April 27, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    Its a good article. Thank You Peter. As a Bangladeshi Cricket Fan, I would say that Bangladesh needs some world class Coaches and stuffs from other country (i.e England,S.Africa, Australia) for its Under 19 national team besides the main National Team. If Bangladesh don't focus on its Under 19 team, it will be tough for Bangladesh National Team to have quality players. I think that for spain coach, Bangladesh could get help from Pakistan and India. For Fast bowling coach, Bangladesh could get help from Pakistan because still Pakistan is good on this department in world cricket. But again, BANGLADESH NEEDS QUALITY COACHING STUFFS (BOWLING,FIELDING&BATTING) for its Under 19's Team.

  • Master_Mihil on April 27, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    You might not know this.The success of srilankan cricket was due to the hard work and commitment of previous administrations and players in 90 ties. Development of cricket in SL was collective national effort. We came from rock bottom to grab a world cup.It's like a dream.

  • on April 27, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    @ Nipun, you didn't leave your contact details.

  • tawsulee on April 27, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian: Why only Bangladesh? Why not Zimbabwe or WI or NZL or SA or ENG? Is it only about playing in the WC? Is Ireland not capable of beating anybody but Bangladesh? Enough of this stupid analysis of Ireland vs. Bangladesh. Bangladesh has beaten them in the last WC and has finished in a higher standing. This proves we are better than them. Ireland should get a chance to play in the next WC for sure but dragging only Bangladesh in this debate is senseless!

  • Shafi79 on April 27, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka's secret lies in its school cricket structure. We dont have a very strong first class system but school cricket is ery competitive and well funded and continously throws up good players. In addition to this kudos to the coaches / skippers etc. for finding players like Malinga & Mendis who have come from outside the school system.

  • mrgupta on April 27, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    The main problem is that Bangladeshi's got too excited this time just after beating a poor Kiwi side. Jut beating the Kiwi's 4-0 they thought now they have entered the big league and the statements like beating WI should be easy, reaching QF should be easy etc were coming out. Even after getting comprehensively beaten by India in the first match the players and fans refused to see the shortcomings and kept on brushing it aside as a bad day as if nothing had happened. A side which conceded 370 runs was happy and satisfied to be able to reach 285 in reply. Big sides are never happy this way, they feel let down, they feel bad about conceding 370 rather than being happy about scoring 285 in reply. Their main problem is their attitude. I mentioned it before the WC the difference between the top sides and mediocre ones was the way their Captains talked before the start of the big tournament. Indians and SL talked the least and BD & WI talked the most.

  • on April 27, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    First of all, BD cricket has definitely progressed; the current young cricketers are the best ever to have donned the national colours.

    The question is, has the pace of development been enough given the investment, and are similarly placed teams doing better than us as far as progress is concerned? No and yes respectively, and therein lies the problem.

    Bangladesh is a better team than Ireland, but not by much. We should be walloping them everytime but we have already lost twice to them recently.

    The main problem is, as cliched as it sounds now, domestic cricket and that's why Roebuck's article should be read by everyone in BCB

  • on April 27, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    Is he right about our cricket?

  • on April 27, 2011, 13:53 GMT

    I think not only Bangladesh also Pak & Ind has some problem in their domestic cricket , specially about bouncy pitch is not be seen in this country.But I really appreciate Srilankan domestic level specially in root level,they r very fond of cricket but not so much crazy like BD,Pak & Ind.They really concentrate on their field in root level which is not so much available in BD cricket in root level.And it is really a problem is senior player is not available in BD national team which is really needed specially in Test arena but unfortunately senior player is not performing well like young player.That's why BD team is not doing well regularly.

  • VisBal on April 27, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    As Peter Roebuck says, one of the best ways to improve the strength of the domestic competition is to ensure that the senior players participate. That way, they can help develop some of the upcoming players either as a mentor or by challenging skills. Of course, in order to do that, Boards would have to reduce the number of overseas tours during their domestic seasons. Players only learn the skills and gain mental toughness by playing first class cricket. Boards - especially of the weaker teams - should find more ways for their players to play more first class cricket. People seem to forget that the Great Generations of West Indies cricket were actually raised playing County cricket in England...

  • on April 27, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    I think Ireland has a good chance of knocking Bangladesh out if given a chance....for the next cup

  • Nipun on April 27, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    Bangladesh cricket will never progress,for this reason or that,but ultimately they will stay where they are,or may regress backwards.You read it here first & you'll say this time & time again over both the short run & long run.Mark my words & contact me if I'm ever proven wrong in this topic.

  • on April 27, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Sri Lankans rock, and they also lose two World Cup finals out of three and become sore. I almost couldn't believe this article was written by Peter Roebuck. Admittedly it carries a lot of meaning and insight, but far from being the lucid piece that Roebuck is known for, this is one long twaddle with parentheses, long and convoluted sentences, and the like. What happened to Mr Roebuck's writing?

  • Herath-UK on April 27, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    Good article Peter,a main reason is Sri Lanka is blessed with talent,be it in cricket or in other fields.With the peace dawning in the country and young guns in the northeast joining,we could expect it to gallop away, be aware other teams! Ranil Herath Kent

  • Madraskumar on April 27, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka Cricket have delivered the BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT when comparing to other top cricket playing countries

  • NALINWIJ on April 27, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    Correct me if I am wrong ,hasn"t St.Joseph that produced Vaas also produce Angelo Mathews and Tissara Perera. The originality of Sri Lankan cricketers stem from rural cricketers who developed a unique style unaffected by coaching mixed with city schoolboys with classical technique from excellent coaching. Comparison between Jayasuriya and Sangakkara illustrates this point.

  • Tusher1987 on April 27, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    Great analysis by Peter Roebuck

  • on April 27, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    A pretty good analysis. Really, for Bangladesh, they should be perform better after taking so much time. And yes, the center problem is not to have a player like hussey-that means experienced and well-performed to hold the back bone of the team. Whatever, that happens because of ICL ban and after they got back, lost their way. It was and is a big loss surely. Our hope, now, is within next 2-3 years, the present players will take their ancestors place in the team, we can hope that if they can earn that attitude and experience, that will help them to stay calm in situations. Yeh..their age will be 26/27 then...bt atleast better than lots of 21-22!

    Still Bangladeshi supporters, a over-wishing sometimes-but truly energetic and enthusiastic-dedicated to the team, still have beliefs their team will perform better regularly. Infra-structures should be reformed well to produce more and more dependable players and more of characters.

    Hope so.

  • on April 27, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Definitely, Bangladesh can learn a lot from Sri Lanka. You have pinpointed the exact problem -- the lack of seasoned professionals. Unfortunately the 30-somethings in Bangladesh cricket are just not good enough to make it at the international level. The current crop of young Bangladesh national cricketers is probably better than the previous generation who left for the ICL and came back. One of the things that should be done, therefore, is give the team time to build. Let them develop a nucleus of senior players. In 5 years, by the time Shakib is close to his 30s, and people like Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal can reach the peaks of their careers, we could have the makings of a strong team.

  • Meety on April 27, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    Good article Peter, I haven't been to Bangladesh, (Nepal was about as close as I got), but I do read the scorecards & bulletins of their domestic scene. The Bangas ARE doing some of things you've said has been good about SL cricket. They are getting talent in from the more remote villages. The biggest problem I see for Bangladesh is the wickets. They keep producing poor sub-continental pitches that are only conducive to spin bowling & batsmen who play spin bowling. As can be seen from the national side almost all of the batsmen can bowl spin, they only at the moment have about 3 pace bowlers anywhere near International standard. That being said Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah, Razzaq & Rahim are the (young) nucleus of a side that could quite well be a contender in 2015. Even Kayes in ODIs is improving quickly. The standard of competition has improved domestically & I think they are odds on to produce some fine spin bowlers soon, just need pacers!

  • remnant on April 27, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    You can bring 26 teams, but if they are not worth watching, then nobody would come and see the matches. ODI WC Cricket is unlike other WCs because it requires a day for a match and quality of cricket determines its success more than quantity. 10 or less teams in all-play-all format gives the top tiers atleast 9 matches each in predetermined locations, and lets slow starters, campaigns gone awry, to course correct as well. The other advantage is that it would avoid dead rubbers/matches for already qualified teams to pick and choose thier opponoents, as the WI did in the recent WC where Gayle etc sat out the game against India, since a victory against India would have meant a semi with Aus. This is speculation only.Predetermined locations allows fans to book hotels seats in the places where their teams play in advance, not like what you have in group stages where you only know the 3 matches your team plays in, since after that it is the KO stage.

  • Lord.emsworth on April 27, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    'Sri Lanka continue to compete with, and often defeat, the powerhouses'. What powerhouses' are these? Sri Lanka IS a powerhouse. WC winners, WC finalists twice, T20 Finalists, Asian Cup winners, etc, etc. All since 1996. 15 years on top surely makes them a 'powerhouse' if one uses your wording. Bangladesh's limited success is a mental thing. Sl struggled too until a certain older Alexander( or rather Napolean as he is also often called) Arjuna Ranatunge, instilled a 'die-hard' attitude that has since never wavered. Thats what Bangladesh need to copy.

  • on April 27, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    This is what happens when you grant full member status to a country which does not deserve that honour. The lack of infrastucture can be rectified. However, lack of talent is a serious problem. Bangladesh seriously lacked talent when they were granted test status. On the other hand Sri Lanka had plenty of talent in spite of lack of opportunities at international level. Very little had changed after all these years in Bangladesh cricket. Since they started off with lack of talent there was no way of producing senior members by this time to play alongside young newcomers.

  • on April 27, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I don't understand....what should be criteria …..the performance of the team in the field or the popularity of the game in the country…On latter scale Bangladesh for sure scores more than any other associate nation

  • crickstats on April 27, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan I can give some inputs, Bangladesh might have Aravindas and Arjunas, but what they don't have is a Michael Tisseras or CI Gunasekaras, Mahesh Gunathilakas. Those guys have competed and played for Ceylon much before Aravinda or Arjuna did. As the author mentions Cricket was in Colombo for a longer time than most people think. One of our school encounter is older than the Ashes, but what the '96 win helped was to develop the game outside Colombo, now you would see Colombo representing only a few players compared to 96. May be Bangladesh would need politicians like President J R Jayawardane and minister like Gamini Dissanayake, they were the people who gave cricket its place here. Bangladesh then need a '96 like SL had, mind you they competed well in Australia before Lahore '96, it was not a fluke by no means.

  • on April 27, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Interesting period for bang cricket. I'm a perth boy, but no doubt i'm a BD underdog fan. I hope the likes of shakib, tamim, mushfiqur, mamudullah and shafiul will be core players at the next world cup. I hope shariar and razzak will still be there too. Having become the bd ricky ponting and shane warne equiv for them. (Obviously they wouldn't be the calibre of warne and ponting) but in a similar mould in terms of age, wisdom and experience. I believe this is the squad they need to stick with for the next 5 years. I also think they play a fantastic brand of cricket, when all are firing and they are playing as a team. However you can see with the capitulations of 200 run/ 10 wicket defeats, their not playing as a unit. They lack the age and experience of realising someone is bowling extremely well and they need to put the extravagant shots away for a short period of time or if someone is having a shane watson innings, you need to respect that and bowling line and length, try dif bowlers

  • arya_underfoot on April 27, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    yes the lankans are definitely overachievers. bangladesh, with an adequate first-class system, should be able to do much better. what they really need, like mr roebuck has suggested, is for guys like shakib, tamim and siddique to stick around for the next ten years, so that they can be the ranatungas, the de silvas etc for the next generation. if they could somehow fluke a real superstar in the midst of all this, someone like murali or sachin, that would also be ideal.

  • enigma77543 on April 27, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    Obviously, these countries' woes stem from a lack of competitive domestic cricket & thus, having them play Test-matches & getting thrashed by bigger teams hardly does any service to them or to the popularity & viability of Tests. ICC needs a promotion/relegation-system in Tests, ICC ratings can be used for this purpose with a pre-defined range with teams below the range losing their Test-status & a route to regaining it by playing in ICC events designated for the purpose. Having permanent Test-status only makes teams complacent while promotion/relegation would give ALL teams something to strive for & keep Test-cricket competitive. ICC could organise a 4-day event between 3 top "non-Test" teams & 3 strong domestic or A-teams from stronger Test-nations competing in a 6-team 15-match event, the performance in which would be considered for the purpose of promoting a NATIONAL-team to Test-status every 2 years while simultaneously these events would help strengthen minnows.

  • on April 27, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    This is an interesting article, written by a non-lankan. Cricket may not be the national sport in SL, but is the most popular & followed with a rich heritage.

  • Has6265 on April 27, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    srilankans ROCK!!!!! enough said....

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Has6265 on April 27, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    srilankans ROCK!!!!! enough said....

  • on April 27, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    This is an interesting article, written by a non-lankan. Cricket may not be the national sport in SL, but is the most popular & followed with a rich heritage.

  • enigma77543 on April 27, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    Obviously, these countries' woes stem from a lack of competitive domestic cricket & thus, having them play Test-matches & getting thrashed by bigger teams hardly does any service to them or to the popularity & viability of Tests. ICC needs a promotion/relegation-system in Tests, ICC ratings can be used for this purpose with a pre-defined range with teams below the range losing their Test-status & a route to regaining it by playing in ICC events designated for the purpose. Having permanent Test-status only makes teams complacent while promotion/relegation would give ALL teams something to strive for & keep Test-cricket competitive. ICC could organise a 4-day event between 3 top "non-Test" teams & 3 strong domestic or A-teams from stronger Test-nations competing in a 6-team 15-match event, the performance in which would be considered for the purpose of promoting a NATIONAL-team to Test-status every 2 years while simultaneously these events would help strengthen minnows.

  • arya_underfoot on April 27, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    yes the lankans are definitely overachievers. bangladesh, with an adequate first-class system, should be able to do much better. what they really need, like mr roebuck has suggested, is for guys like shakib, tamim and siddique to stick around for the next ten years, so that they can be the ranatungas, the de silvas etc for the next generation. if they could somehow fluke a real superstar in the midst of all this, someone like murali or sachin, that would also be ideal.

  • on April 27, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Interesting period for bang cricket. I'm a perth boy, but no doubt i'm a BD underdog fan. I hope the likes of shakib, tamim, mushfiqur, mamudullah and shafiul will be core players at the next world cup. I hope shariar and razzak will still be there too. Having become the bd ricky ponting and shane warne equiv for them. (Obviously they wouldn't be the calibre of warne and ponting) but in a similar mould in terms of age, wisdom and experience. I believe this is the squad they need to stick with for the next 5 years. I also think they play a fantastic brand of cricket, when all are firing and they are playing as a team. However you can see with the capitulations of 200 run/ 10 wicket defeats, their not playing as a unit. They lack the age and experience of realising someone is bowling extremely well and they need to put the extravagant shots away for a short period of time or if someone is having a shane watson innings, you need to respect that and bowling line and length, try dif bowlers

  • crickstats on April 27, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan I can give some inputs, Bangladesh might have Aravindas and Arjunas, but what they don't have is a Michael Tisseras or CI Gunasekaras, Mahesh Gunathilakas. Those guys have competed and played for Ceylon much before Aravinda or Arjuna did. As the author mentions Cricket was in Colombo for a longer time than most people think. One of our school encounter is older than the Ashes, but what the '96 win helped was to develop the game outside Colombo, now you would see Colombo representing only a few players compared to 96. May be Bangladesh would need politicians like President J R Jayawardane and minister like Gamini Dissanayake, they were the people who gave cricket its place here. Bangladesh then need a '96 like SL had, mind you they competed well in Australia before Lahore '96, it was not a fluke by no means.

  • on April 27, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I don't understand....what should be criteria …..the performance of the team in the field or the popularity of the game in the country…On latter scale Bangladesh for sure scores more than any other associate nation

  • on April 27, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    This is what happens when you grant full member status to a country which does not deserve that honour. The lack of infrastucture can be rectified. However, lack of talent is a serious problem. Bangladesh seriously lacked talent when they were granted test status. On the other hand Sri Lanka had plenty of talent in spite of lack of opportunities at international level. Very little had changed after all these years in Bangladesh cricket. Since they started off with lack of talent there was no way of producing senior members by this time to play alongside young newcomers.

  • Lord.emsworth on April 27, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    'Sri Lanka continue to compete with, and often defeat, the powerhouses'. What powerhouses' are these? Sri Lanka IS a powerhouse. WC winners, WC finalists twice, T20 Finalists, Asian Cup winners, etc, etc. All since 1996. 15 years on top surely makes them a 'powerhouse' if one uses your wording. Bangladesh's limited success is a mental thing. Sl struggled too until a certain older Alexander( or rather Napolean as he is also often called) Arjuna Ranatunge, instilled a 'die-hard' attitude that has since never wavered. Thats what Bangladesh need to copy.

  • remnant on April 27, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    You can bring 26 teams, but if they are not worth watching, then nobody would come and see the matches. ODI WC Cricket is unlike other WCs because it requires a day for a match and quality of cricket determines its success more than quantity. 10 or less teams in all-play-all format gives the top tiers atleast 9 matches each in predetermined locations, and lets slow starters, campaigns gone awry, to course correct as well. The other advantage is that it would avoid dead rubbers/matches for already qualified teams to pick and choose thier opponoents, as the WI did in the recent WC where Gayle etc sat out the game against India, since a victory against India would have meant a semi with Aus. This is speculation only.Predetermined locations allows fans to book hotels seats in the places where their teams play in advance, not like what you have in group stages where you only know the 3 matches your team plays in, since after that it is the KO stage.