One-day internationals (3): Bangladesh 0, Australia 3
Two days after returning home from Australia's unsuccessful attempt to win a fourth successive World Cup, Ricky Ponting stood down as captain. Like Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh before him, he announced his decision at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Ponting, however, had no intention of following the path traditionally taken by ex-Australian captains and leaving the game, particularly in circumstances less than glorious. Instead, he declared his readiness to stay on as a senior batsman in a struggling team, and within a week was flying to Bangladesh as a mere foot-soldier under the captaincy of Michael Clarke.
Overall, however, the Australian squad showed a remarkable lack of forethought, with the selectors preferring to keep together more or less the same party that had just traipsed around the subcontinent. The only changes were brought about by injury - the fit-again Xavier Doherty replaced Jason Krejza in the spin department - and paternity leave, with David Hussey staying at home for the birth of his first child. His place was taken by Callum Ferguson.
Dhaka was still bedecked with World Cup banners and advertising when the Australians arrived, but there was nothing festive about the state of the Bangladesh team or their support staff. The coach, Jamie Siddons, soon discovered he was in his final days in charge after the board decided in mid- series to sack him following the failure to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Siddons was glum about leaving, and did so with a plea for his successor - eventually named more than two months later as another Australian, Stuart Law - to persist with the young players he had introduced. Shakib Al Hasan, the captain, led his side more timidly than Siddons would have liked, while Bangladesh's senior fast bowler Mashrafe bin Mortaza, who had missed the World Cup, bowed to board pressure and played, despite carrying a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his knee (he underwent another operation shortly after the series).
The Bangladeshis might not have been in the best frame of mind to provide the most cohesive opposition, but it had to be remembered that they had whitewashed New Zealand before the World Cup, and beaten England during it. Clarke needed his team to do rather more than just turn up, and they played some solid cricket while completing a 3-0 victory.
Clarke the batsman made the best possible start with a measured century, while Ponting quietly collected 118 runs for twice out. But the batting headlines were stolen by Clarke's deputy, Shane Watson, who crashed 185 not out, including a world record 15 sixes, to make a mockery of Australia's run-chase in the second game. Bangladesh saved their best moments for the pursuit of 361 in the final match, but still fell comfortably short. Clarke celebrated with his squad, then awoke the next morning to confide that he still had much respect to earn as a leader. At least he had sidestepped an early banana skin.
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