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This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Kittens dying. Children crying inconsolably for no apparent reason. National economies crashing. Disease. Pestilence. Apartheid. Jennifer Lopez.
This is just a short list of things that occur when Bangladesh lose cricket matches.
Bad things. Terrible things. Things that break lives and destroy cities.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying by any means that the Bangladesh side set out to wilfully harm humanity. Not in the least. I'm just saying they are directly responsible for almost every tragic thing that happens in the world. That is the brutal truth we must all come to terms with. Al Gore even made a movie about it. It is categorically criminal for a team packed with so much talent to underperform the way they do, and it's small wonder the universe reacts so badly whenever Bangladesh fails.
There are few players in the world who can smash Daniel Vettori out of the attack on a fifth-day pitch. Shakib Al Hasan, however, did it with such nonchalance that you could be forgiven for thinking he was setting off for a morning round of Bangladeshi golf with his wooden clubs in his car made of cardboard, when he was actually laying waste to the New Zealand bowling. He then gets to a hundred, celebrates modestly, giving everyone hope that he is completely focussed on the task of getting his team home, and is promptly cleaned up by an innocuous Tim Southee seamer.
There is so much to like about this team. An entire batting order capable of electric strokeplay. A captain who leads from the front in all three disciplines of the game. A promising young all-round talent in the form of Mahmudullah. A fearless opener who has every shot ever played. Even the pace-bowling department is coming along. Add to all this the fact that the average team age is around seven and there is a lot to be hopeful about for the future of Bangladesh cricket. But there is also so much to be depressed about the present.
New Zealand have long since mastered the complex art of the batting collapse. Watching the Kiwis do what they do best is like watching da Vinci paint or Beethoven compose. So precise with their mishits to the fielders, so adept at dragging wide deliveries onto the stumps. But in the recent series, Bangladesh even out-collapsed the champion collapsers in their own backyard. Their batsmen played so recklessly that the amount of level-headedness on display made Paul Collingwood's social awareness seem positively comprehensive. There were glimpses of sheer brilliance, fleeting hints that what we were about to witness was something truly special, but a moment of absurd derangement put all that to an end.
Sure, the current side is young and inexperienced, but for how long will that be an excuse? There is a very legitimate fear that Bangladesh will never come good. A Test batting average of under 23 for a man of Mohammad Ashraful's talent is not particularly comforting. Let's just hope for the sake of cricket, and for the sake of global well-being, that Bangladesh perform to their potential against England, lest smallpox epidemics or earthquakes eventuate. Perhaps even worse, Jennifer Lopez.
Andrew Fernando is a student at Auckland University. He blogs at www.cricketordeath.co.nr
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