Tamim Iqbal has renewed the call for more Test cricket for Bangladesh as they go into a three-month break. Their next assignment will be two Test matches against Sri Lanka in March, followed by two more against Zimbabwe in April. In 2012, they've played the least number of Tests in a year since their admission into Test cricket.
Tamim said that the first Test against West Indies, which was their first in eleven months, showed that they know how to play the game but not how to finish a Test match. "If you don't play enough Tests, you wouldn't have an idea of how to play the game properly. Test cricket is all about habits and the more we will play, the more we will improve," Tamim said. "We talk of improvement but the fact is, we have never taken a Test against a better opponent into the fifth day. It is the same as scoring a hundred: if you haven't made one you wouldn't know how it's done.
"Bangladesh were on top for the first four days of the Dhaka Test. We lost it in the final session of the game but we were playing after almost a year. I'm not making excuses for that defeat though. We should have drawn or won that game."
Despite the defeat in the Test series and the one-off Twenty20 against West Indies, Tamim believes that, across formats, this series marked Bangladesh's best effort to date. "It was our best series. We were competitive in the Tests, we won the ODI series and we lost in the T20 after playing our best game," he said. "It was a very positive series for us."
Tamim said he noticed a marked change in the self-belief among his team-mates, particularly captain Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah who played pivotal roles. The younger players too caught the eye, but the opener warned that the win shouldn't be the end of their cricket education.
"Our biggest gain has been the self-belief among the players, which is very important for a team like ours. We didn't have Shakib [Al Hasan, who was injured], which was a big blow for us. I didn't perform in the ODIs. But our team won because the captain, vice-captain and the younger players doing well.
"We have a lot to improve on though. It doesn't mean we have learned everything by just winning the ODI series. We have a lot of areas to improve on, especially the small things. Our success rate will go up if we stop making those small mistakes."
Personally, Tamim expressed his disappointment at not scoring hundreds for yet another year. His last international century was in Manchester in June 2010 and he has made 17 half-centuries since then, including the unbeaten 88 in the one-off Twenty20 on Monday.
"I dream of scoring a hundred every day, but I get out through my fault 75% of the time. I am very disappointed because 50s are not counted at the world level [when identifying] big players," he said. "I have to take myself to the next level, by scoring more hundreds. This is one area where I can improve, though I have to learn it on my own. I have to find out where I am going wrong."
"In the meantime, I have spoken to great cricketers at home and abroad, asked them what I can do after scoring a 50 ... I spoke to [India batsman] Wasim Jaffer a few months ago, about scoring hundreds."