Dav Whatmore, the Bangladesh coach, has expressed his frustration at the lack of Test cricket for his side over the next year. His views, published in his column on TigerCricket.com, back up those of his captain, Habibul Bashar, who also said recently that the lack of cricket - and Test cricket in particular - is a real concern for Bangladesh.
Whatmore wrote, "We have just finished the series against Australia and it is common knowledge that Bangladesh hasn't got any more Test matches for at least 12 months which is a bit of a pity really because we are making strides in the longer game. But that's the way it is."
According to the recently-finalised Future Tours Program (FTP), Bangladesh are not scheduled to play any Tests now till India's visit in May 2007. And during the six-year cycle they are scheduled to play only 41 Tests, the least among members apart from Zimbabwe (39), whose Test status is in limbo in any case. And though India is scheduled to tour Bangladesh three times in that period, they are the only team to not invite Bangladesh for a home series. In fact, they have not done so ever despite championing their cause to gain Test status in 2000.
Bashar told the Daily Star earlier in the week, "A lot of star players are complaining against too much cricket right at the moment but we are not in a position to join the party. Rather the long break in Test cricket is a real concern for us. I think it is always good for an improving side like Bangladesh to play as much Test cricket as possible.
"It is really a frustrating situation for us because we have just gone around to showing our gradual improvement in this level. We were just grasping over the finer points of Test cricket which will definitely be hampered when we resume the campaign after a year."
Despite the lack of Tests, Whatmore rubbished claims that Bangladesh didn't deserve Test status. "It annoys me when I read from journalists and other sections of local and international media and public that Bangladesh doesn't deserve to be in Test cricket. That's absolute rubbish because the potential that lies in this country is enormous and given a sufficient amount of time we'll be able to be very consistent against any team. With a little slice of luck in a given era, Bangladesh could be the leading team in the Asian region. That's how deep I think the potential lies in Bangladesh."
This belief, he wrote, was based on the fact that in the three years since he has been in charge (since 2003) the team has "performed gradually better and better," and that Bangladesh's U-19 team contained some exciting talent within its ranks. "We are blessed at the moment with a fairly good group of U-19s who have just completed the World Cup. I feel there will be one or two there that will impress the selectors sufficiently over the next few months during Academy matches and A team matches to earn their promotion into the top flight. And those players that do earn the promotion will certainly be able to strengthen the team because they will be multi-skilled players. So in many ways this is an exciting period for Bangladesh cricket and particularly in the one-day form with which we will be only involved with in the next 12 months leading up to the World Cup."