Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has demanded more runs from his top order during the upcoming tour of South Africa. The first four batsmen in Bangladesh's XI - Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Rajin Saleh and Mohammad Ashraful - managed only 113 in the two Tests against New Zealand and their combined average was a poor 9.41.
"In South Africa if our top four players fail like that then we can not expect our Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to save us all the time. It won't happen," Siddons said. Bangladesh's leading run-scorer in the Tests, Shakib Al Hasan, batted at No. 7 and 8 and their three half-centuries came from batsmen at No. 5 or lower.
"If we are going to be successful in South Africa, hopefully we can be, we need to get our top four firing," Siddons said. "We just have to stay disciplined. We are working hard on leaving the good balls alone outside off stump. We are not nicking anywhere near as often as we were six to 12 months ago but we are finding other ways to get out."
Bangladesh's mini-wobble on the fourth day of the second Test in Mirpur - they lost three wickets in a Daniel Vettori over - put them under pressure heading into the final day. After New Zealand declared their first innings, Bangladesh openers had gone along cautiously, before Siddique made an "unacceptable and inexplicable" charge down the pitch against Vettori.
"He still has not come up with a reasonable explanation. The light was bad, but we didn't know that there was only one over left," Siddons said. "They called the game off because of light in the end. He only needed to play six balls and that wouldn't have exposed any more of our batsman. He said when the bowler was running in he had the right thoughts but when the bowler let the ball go his brain exploded and he played a ridiculous shot. No coach in the world can stop a player from doing that."
Looking at the positives, Siddons said: "It's exciting to have been in a position to win the series. We didn't do it but it was a lot of fun for us this time around because we could have won the series." He said after the 3-0 loss in the ODIs in Australia, the team had stepped up with the belief of beating New Zealand "We came back and trained hard. We did believe that we can beat New Zealand in our home turf. They are a little inexperienced in batting especially in our conditions.
"We thought we could bowl them out for a really competitive total and we proved that we can do that. But our batting is inconsistent and we rely on one or two people to do all the work for us. We should bat better in our conditions."
Bangladesh now travel to South Africa, where they will play two Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20 international. The tour begins with the limited-over games, followed by the Tests. Bangladesh's batting line-up will be boosted by the return of middle-order batsman Raqibul Hasan.