Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle March 7, 2013

Time for Bangladesh to deliver in Tests


When there are calls to protect the primacy of Test cricket, its newest participant often slips somewhere between the eloquent paragraphs.

Bangladesh have entered a phase where some cricketers are subtly, through their actions, sending out a message that Twenty20s are their choice of format. When they face Sri Lanka in Galle tomorrow, it will be their first Test this year, almost three months after their last, and it comes on the back of the Bangladesh Premier League.

The initiation of the BPL, the emblematic domestic T20 competition, has brought on the advent of "choice" to the Bangladeshi cricketer. Harsh though it may be, playing for Bangladesh is no longer the only option for a cricketer with above-average skills. The BPL offers enough money to a player and, judging by the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) announcement of enhanced match fees for Tests, ODIs and T20s, sticking to the safety of the BPL has become an obvious option for many cricketers. It has happened in India, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Given how the importance of the BPL has grown among players and the BCB, Bangladesh could be the next in line to accommodate T20s in every aspect of its cricket.

At times like this, the buck stops with the captain. Bangladesh is led by Mushfiqur Rahim, a strong character with a penchant for an occasional emotional outburst. But he has come of age as a wicketkeeper and a batsman, working harder than anyone in the team and gaining respect as a leader. He is a sort of individual who needs to do well to be in the right frame of mind while leading the side. In the last 18 months, Mushfiqur has seldom failed with the bat or gloves, giving him the emotional stability to captain the team. And he can lead the team's mindset, helping them define their individual Test cricket aspirations.

Bangladesh, however, have not done well in Test cricket, not even under the matured Mushfiqur. They pushed West Indies for two-and-a-half days late last year but that form didn't last very long. Glimpses of brilliance, guts and tenacity were all there but ultimately, the scoreline read 0-2, a sight that Bangladesh fans are now used to seeing at the end of most Test series. Bangladesh need a brilliant on-field performance to lift their image and, if they can push Sri Lanka like they did the West Indies and finish it off, it will only benefit the players.

Against Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur will need performances from Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mohammad Ashraful to make this tour more successful than the four previous ones. Bangladesh have never drawn a Test match in Sri Lanka, losing all eight matches. This is, however, a country that they have enjoyed playing in over the years.

The team is without its best cricketer, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur will yearn for his abilities with the bat and ball when the Sri Lankan batsmen get going. The bowling attack is specially thin; offspinner Sohag Gazi can be a threat with his control and flight, but none of the other bowlers have had enough bowling practice to stake a claim as automatic choices in the line-up.

The selectors believe the pace bowling department is their blind spot. It is likely that Abul Hasan's mid-match sickness is related to the sloppy training schedule of BPL teams, and Rubel Hossain's lack of rhythm can be put down to the limited number of matches he has played between January and February.

The BCB president pointed out on Wednesday that there is a trend among players to think twice before playing the longer version of the game, even as they adopt a different attitude towards T20. Just as the buck stops with the captain when it comes to on-field performance (and Mushfiqur will be liable regardless of the team's result), Nazmul Hassan must himself and his associates within the BCB one very important question: what is more important to Bangladesh cricket?

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Abu on March 8, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    Well!after reading these comments I agree with "now or never" call!BD is been in cricket world for a long long time and they are yet to be known as cricketers;eleven members on the ground has to be in one heart one mind mode and that chemistry is not there,in a day's play they keep loosing focus on the game specially when a wicket falls;celebrate after the end of a match with a "win"and all these artificial styling collar up glittery sun glasses air bat exercising gardening;too much concentration on the side work rather than on the game;cricket is not a T20 game; patience is the virtue;intelligence is the call and team work is the essence;Shakib is a good all-round cricketer because (I am sure)he looks up at the legends;learns and works hard to adapt but not to copy the legends as each one of them were one and only;I hear and read that the captain works hard;it's not a one man show so guys from coach to players each one work your heart out;GOOD LUCK!with SL series---until next time...

  • Owen on March 8, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    For the past few years, an article and comments stating 'its now or never for Bangladesh' come out before each test series, almost suggesting that they will have their test status withdrawn if they don't start winning. I completely disagree, I always say that so long as the team shows fight, and character and pushes the opposition, regardless of the result, then they have helped produce a good quality test match. I believe we have seen enough fight from the tigers since they were given test status to be thankful that they are allowed to take part in the greatest sporting contest in the world. I have no doubt we would see the same from Ireland and Afghanistan also.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    Lol Bangladesh is a huge disappointment in cricket overall. They've been lucky on a few occasions but there's no excuse now. They've played cricket for long enough. If Sangakarra, Dilshan and Jayawardene were all to retire today, Sri Lanka would still have the ability to whitewash Bangladesh. And that is EXACTLY what is going to happen. I'm sick of Bangladesh getting hyped up before every series for the past several years. Let a team like Ireland and Scotland take their place, it would be better for world cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I think now i can safely say Now or Never

  • Maruf on March 7, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    In this Srilankan side only Jawardane missing and for Bangladesh of course Shakib will be big missing but I think Enamul Jnr could be a great option on this spinning track Enamul has got good record in recent past and also he could flight the ball. however, waiting to see good battle between two teams and I personally respect Srilankan cricket calibre.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    So far BD has been a big disappointment in test cricket. I always thought it is a waste of time watching them playing. Except few guys like Tamim and Sakib others have not come up to the standard expected.It has been along time your colours and prove us all wrong.Give a stiff competition.It doesn't matter whether you win or loose.Win the respect and that is more than enough.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    good luck, tigers!!! it seems there is a good opportunity for us to win the test series as Srilanka is a younger team. our batting is ok but bowling is a real concern.

  • shahadat on March 7, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    tigers should stick with 2 spinner and 2 pacer : rubel, shahadat/robiul, sohag, elias sunny. plus they can use mahmudullah,ashraful, nasir, mominul's spin. watch out for anamul hauque, a raw talent.

  • khondokar on March 7, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    @S-Matrix - completely agree with u. Test cricket is the best cricket, but it is for those who truely understand and love the game of cricket. Test cricket is both for bowlers and batsmen, not like T20 where it's totally a batsmen game. T20 is killing the fun of Cricket. THere is nothing more enjoyable than test cricket where it unfolds new doors every hour in the third and fouth day...nothing prettier than fast bowlers like Mcgrath, Stein, Walsh/Ambrose, Wasim/Waqar tearing the batting order in a test match....which is never possible in T20. ODI's are also good entertainment though.