The negativity among the Bangladesh players spread like a "virus" as they got thrashed one game at a time on their South Africa tour, according to Shakib Al Hasan, . The four weeks of woeful cricket finished with the 83-run defeat in the second T20 in Potchefstroom.
Shakib said that once they were handed the drubbings in the two Tests, the morale within the group started to go down, and it culminated in poorer performances in the ODIs, Bangladesh's favoured format, and T20s. None of Bangladesh's batsmen made more than 300 runs across formats on this tour, while their highest wicket-taker, Rubel Hossain, took just seven wickets.
Shakib observed that those in the dressing-room started to speak about personal things when things didn't go their way, which inevitably contributed to low moods and an atmosphere of defeat.
"I think a big reason [for the performance] was that we didn't do well in Tests, and when the ODIs came around that mood lingered into that format," Shakib said. "Similarly, when we did not do well in the ODIs, it lingered into the T20s. It's like a virus. If we did well in Tests, then we could have done even better in ODIs, and even better thereafter in the T20s.
"That's how these things work; it is so critical that if you are in the dressing room. You can tell from the atmosphere. The mentality is different in a winning dressing room; everyone talks about winning. In a losing dressing room, people talk about personal things, and unwittingly negative things come in. Atmosphere is important. More than one or two people performing, it is important that the team performs."
Bangladesh's batsmen, especially Mushfiqur Rahim, had his moments including the century in the first ODI, which was the first by a Bangladeshi against South Africa. Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah and Liton Das had one good innings each, while Soumya Sarkar concluded a poor series with two scores of 40-plus. They never put up substantial, match-changing partnerships which the South Africans did in abundance.
The bowlers however had a terrible time. Collectively, the bowlers conceded the fourth-highest average in a Test series. For the first time, they went on to concede 1,000-plus runs in an ODI series. They were also on the receiving end of the fastest T20 international hundred. Shakib said that the most worrying thing was the lack of fight they posed to South Africa.
"The records will show that no team has performed well in away series in the last three or four years. But we were not able to compete in this series, which is frustrating. We played well in the last 2-3 years which is why we expected to fight here. But unfortunately we were not able to get out from the losing streak," he said.
Shakib, however, warned against massive changes in the Bangladesh setup for their next assignment, which will be next year against Sri Lanka at home. He said that they have to make a combined effort to put things right.
"People will have personal opinions but I won't say that we have to start thinking about sea changes after just one series. It is a little normal that results like this will happen on overseas tours. Maybe it was expected that we would lose, but we did not expect to play the cricket we did to lose the way we did.
"We all know what our ability is, and none of us could perform up to that. So in that regard I am sure that everyone - starting with the BCB, the coaching staff and us players - will work hard to overcome it, which is important if we want to move forward," he said.