Bangladesh yesterday departed for their short tour of Australia (two Tests, three ODIs), but for once the aims were realistic and there was no sign of the pre-tour hype which is customary on such occasions. They know that only a miracle will stop them being heavily defeated by Australia, but the hope is that they will perform well enough to help them shed their reputation as international cricket's no-hopers.

"We are going to have a tough tour in Australia but mentally, we are strong and ready to face the opponents with courage," Khaled Mahmud, Bangladesh's captain, told reporters in Dhaka. "Everybody is now in a positive mood and we are not thinking anything negative. Though it will not be possible to bring any radical change in the team within the next few months, I think there will be some positive results after a certain time."

Mahmud welcomed the itinerary, which gives Bangladesh almost a month to acclimatise before the opening Test. "It will be good for us," he said. "We will be able to train hard to adjust to the local conditions."

He added that the advice given to the team before the Tests in South Africa, that they should try to play for five days, was wrong. ""It added pressure on the players," he explained. "I realise that it was not right and I don't want to repeat it. My only advice is to try to do better and play our natural game."

Only a wild optimist expects Bangladesh to do anything other than be crushed by a weary Australian side keen to get things over and done with. That accepted, the only way is up for Bangladesh and if they can show more fight than they have in recent performances then they will gain from the experience.