Bangladesh's batsmen have only themselves to blame for their wretched performance in the two Tests against West Indies, according to Tamim Iqbal. He said that even when the pitch became easier for batting on the third day of the Jamaica Test, they couldn't enter into a contest with the West Indies fast bowlers.
Instead, Bangladesh collapsed to 168 all out in 42 overs as West Indies completed a series-winning 166-run victory. Home captain Jason Holder finished with 11 for 103 as their fast bowlers dominated the two Tests. Only two out of the 40 wickets West Indies took went to a spinner - Roston Chase. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel took five-wicket hauls in the first Test while Miguel Cummins chipped in with wickets from time to time.
"What happened here, there's nothing to explain," Tamim told ESPNcricinfo. "We only have ourselves to blame. Our batting was not up to the mark. We were playing on difficult wickets but these were not unplayable. There were exceptional deliveries but it wasn't so bad that we couldn't get 200 in any innings. Even today, we weren't going to make 330 or 340 but it was a really good wicket to bat on. If we could have been in the contest longer, it would have been an interesting game."
None of the Bangladesh batsmen could total 100 runs in the four innings, The team's series batting average stood at 12.60, their lowest ever. Only Nurul Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan scored fifties while Mahmudullah and Mominul Haque made 19 and 16 runs in the series respectively.
The only departure from usual Test conditions that Tamim observed during this series was the use of the Duke ball. The last time Bangladesh played with the Duke ball was during their 2014 West Indies tour. Bangladesh regularly play with the Kookaburra ball both at home and in other countries. The Duke balls are known to have a more pronounced seam than the Kookaburra, helping the pace bowlers for movement off the seam for longer periods.
"The only thing that was different here was the Duke ball which we were playing [with] after four years," Tamim stated. It swings and seams more than the Kookaburra ball, but that's the only difference. But it is not an excuse for our bad performance.
"I think it was more mental than technical. The top six here had similar dismissals. I think we were prepared enough for tackling swing and bounce, but you can't really prepare for a seaming track where the ball is cutting."
Bangladesh lasted 88.1 overs in this game, after having batted for only 59 overs in Antigua. They only lasted 883 balls across the series, the fewest by a team in a two-Test series since 1888-89, not counting heavily rain-affected contests. Tamim said that it was perhaps their biggest downfall not to bat longer and take advantage of lulls in a Test match. He felt that by batting for 60-70 overs at a time, they could have tired down the West Indies pace bowlers who played three Tests against Sri Lanka recently.
"I have played in different conditions in New Zealand and South Africa. In these wickets, you have to spend a lot of time," Tamim said. "You can't play a big shot early. But I think our biggest downfall was not being able to keep them on the field for 60-70 overs at a stretch. Their pace bowlers were playing five back-to-back Tests, so they would have been tired.
"If we could have stretched the game longer, we could have cashed in. We all know there are difficult phases and easy periods in Test matches. We never gave ourselves that chance. We got all out in less than 20 overs in the first innings in Antigua and here it was no different. We got bowled out in 40-45 overs."
Tamim also questioned his own performance, having scored just 64 runs in four innings, and understood he needed to improve quickly. The battling 47 in the first innings in Jamaica was the only highlight for him in the Test series. "I haven't failed like this since 2014 so it is shocking to me regardless of how other people feel about my performance," he stated. "I know that I have to be better at coping with this kind of thing.
"From a personal point of view, I would say three out of my four dismissals were very good deliveries. But having said that, I should have handled it differently. I am a senior cricketer from whom people expect runs."
With the three-match ODI series starting next week, Tamim found some solace in returning to a more favoured format, although he said that they needed to shed the memory of the Test series quickly. He, however, warned that completely forgetting how poorly they played in Antigua and Jamaica wouldn't be ideal ahead of their next Test assignment.
"A different format would suit us but we are going in with bad rhythm," he said. "We have four-five days to forget the Test series and rebuild for the ODIs. But I think we shouldn't forget it completely. We should keep in mind how we did, before our next Test series."