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

Time for Bangladesh to deliver in Tests

23

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

  • InsideHedge on March 7, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Sending my best wishes from India to the Bangladesh cricket team. It will be a tough outing in Sri Lanka, they are hard to beat at home but the wickets and conditions won't be too different for the Tigers from what they're accustomed to. Will look out for that new off spinner, curious if Ashraful can maintain his fine record against SL and whether Bangla can last the distance within a Test - they tend to fade in the closing stages of a Test, esp on the 4th and 5th days. Once they overcome this handicap, they'll be in positions to either draw or win.

  • helloDolly 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...

  • Harlequin. 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.

  • 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.

  • on March 7, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I think now i can safely say Now or Never

  • Marfidaextreme 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.

  • 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 Bangla..show 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.

  • 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.

  • wiseshah 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.

  • DontKillCricket 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.

  • InsideHedge on March 7, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Sending my best wishes from India to the Bangladesh cricket team. It will be a tough outing in Sri Lanka, they are hard to beat at home but the wickets and conditions won't be too different for the Tigers from what they're accustomed to. Will look out for that new off spinner, curious if Ashraful can maintain his fine record against SL and whether Bangla can last the distance within a Test - they tend to fade in the closing stages of a Test, esp on the 4th and 5th days. Once they overcome this handicap, they'll be in positions to either draw or win.

  • helloDolly 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...

  • Harlequin. 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.

  • 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.

  • on March 7, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I think now i can safely say Now or Never

  • Marfidaextreme 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.

  • 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 Bangla..show 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.

  • 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.

  • wiseshah 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.

  • DontKillCricket 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.

  • Herath-UK on March 7, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    BD better give some fight against this inexperienced Sri Lanka side with a new captain and Board rumblings in the background.Otherwise they will get thrashed by our young Lion cubs. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • S-Matrix on March 7, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    @Mar Zan: Please identify another sport or format that can provide the gradual build-up of momentum and shift in balance through prolonged effort over several hours, which often produces nail-biting draws.

    Test cricket is the pinnacle.

  • zaeem007 on March 7, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Enamul Haque Jr and Shakib Al Hasan will be missed badly. Nevertheless, it's a good team and I don't know about win or draw but I'm confident they will put up a good fight.

  • exynos on March 7, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    sorry,I mean one day series 2-1

  • exynos on March 7, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Mark my word Bangladesh will win the test series 1-0 & oneday series 3-2

  • on March 7, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Actually its Time For Bangladesh to show that they have enough skills, temperament, class, quality and fitness to defeat a team like Srilanka on their home soil in a Test Match. Just wanna say Best Of Luck TIGERS!! Make us PROUD!!

  • dwblurb on March 7, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    It's been "time for Bangladesh to deliver in Tests" for the last decade.

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    test cricket is one of boring things I ever seen my life . what the point playing a game 5 day long . ppl don't have time for watching 5 days match . icc should think about that . Once a time test match was ok because on that time players played test match only for time pass but now days world is changing u have to move quickly . my point of view stop test and globalize Odi and t20 to hole over the world not only 10 or 11 team .

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Just Wanna Say Good Luck Tigers..... All Good wishes for Team Bangladesh

  • The_Ashes on March 7, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    Even though Sri Lanka have filled in some youth into this squad, still not younger than our squad :P

  • on March 7, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    I think BD this time has got the best chance to show what they are capable of....Though pace line will be waker due to absence of Mashrafe and with World's one of the best player SHAKIB is not there....It is unlikely to want a victory in the series....If we can win the ODI series then it will prove that we are now in the top 6 teams in the world

  • Baseball-Sucks on March 7, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    If BD could take the game to its 5th day, I'd give some credits that they have improved. Given the conditions of the venue (Galle), Its highly unlikely. Btw BD won't be able to give excuse as SL are fielding relatively young team. There will be at least 2 uncapped players. Skipper Mathews (25) -30 matches. Chandimal (23) - 5 matches, Dimuth Karunaratne (24)- 4 matches , Lahiru Thirimanne (23) - 8 matches. So there goes our most of the top n middle order.(And yes of course there are Dilshan n Sanga :P). But talents wise they are far superior than BD players. So the question here is if BD can make an impact in Test Cricket against this young SL team. I hope at least they would give a fight for the sake of Cricket. But when your full strength bowling attack couldn't even get a young inexperienced SL player(Kithruwan) out, I don't know what you gonna do when a player like Sanga comes to the crease. I know one thing for sure that Pakistan didnt have any answer for that question last year.

  • on March 7, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    I think, Bangladeshi players are good enough technically but with mental toughness and determination, they could bloom beyond.Test cricket is the test of your toughness and patience as well as persistence.If a country plays for national pride and glory, they should showcase better performances. I don't expect them to win but only want them not to throw their wickets away with lavish shots or bowling for the sake of it, waiting the opposition to gift his wicket away rather than forcing them to go. Looking forward to a better show, best of luck Bangladesh cricket team.

  • on March 7, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    I think, Bangladeshi players are good enough technically but with mental toughness and determination, they could bloom beyond.Test cricket is the test of your toughness and patience as well as persistence.If a country plays for national pride and glory, they should showcase better performances. I don't expect them to win but only want them not to throw their wickets away with lavish shots or bowling for the sake of it, waiting the opposition to gift his wicket away rather than forcing them to go. Looking forward to a better show, best of luck Bangladesh cricket team.

  • Baseball-Sucks on March 7, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    If BD could take the game to its 5th day, I'd give some credits that they have improved. Given the conditions of the venue (Galle), Its highly unlikely. Btw BD won't be able to give excuse as SL are fielding relatively young team. There will be at least 2 uncapped players. Skipper Mathews (25) -30 matches. Chandimal (23) - 5 matches, Dimuth Karunaratne (24)- 4 matches , Lahiru Thirimanne (23) - 8 matches. So there goes our most of the top n middle order.(And yes of course there are Dilshan n Sanga :P). But talents wise they are far superior than BD players. So the question here is if BD can make an impact in Test Cricket against this young SL team. I hope at least they would give a fight for the sake of Cricket. But when your full strength bowling attack couldn't even get a young inexperienced SL player(Kithruwan) out, I don't know what you gonna do when a player like Sanga comes to the crease. I know one thing for sure that Pakistan didnt have any answer for that question last year.

  • on March 7, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    I think BD this time has got the best chance to show what they are capable of....Though pace line will be waker due to absence of Mashrafe and with World's one of the best player SHAKIB is not there....It is unlikely to want a victory in the series....If we can win the ODI series then it will prove that we are now in the top 6 teams in the world

  • The_Ashes on March 7, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    Even though Sri Lanka have filled in some youth into this squad, still not younger than our squad :P

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Just Wanna Say Good Luck Tigers..... All Good wishes for Team Bangladesh

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    test cricket is one of boring things I ever seen my life . what the point playing a game 5 day long . ppl don't have time for watching 5 days match . icc should think about that . Once a time test match was ok because on that time players played test match only for time pass but now days world is changing u have to move quickly . my point of view stop test and globalize Odi and t20 to hole over the world not only 10 or 11 team .

  • dwblurb on March 7, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    It's been "time for Bangladesh to deliver in Tests" for the last decade.

  • on March 7, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Actually its Time For Bangladesh to show that they have enough skills, temperament, class, quality and fitness to defeat a team like Srilanka on their home soil in a Test Match. Just wanna say Best Of Luck TIGERS!! Make us PROUD!!

  • exynos on March 7, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Mark my word Bangladesh will win the test series 1-0 & oneday series 3-2

  • exynos on March 7, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    sorry,I mean one day series 2-1