Bangladesh must have hoped that, after their two Test losses to Australia, they would face a decreased degree of pressure in the one-day series starting in Cairns tomorrow, but events this week have precluded that.
Once it was confirmed that Sanwar Hossain was still eligible to play for Bangladesh in the ODIs, despite his bowling action having been reported as suspect, attention very naturally turned to whether the match umpires would be prepared to call him for throwing during the first match.
Australia has been one of the hotbeds of action against suspect bowlers in recent times, with the memorable calling of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan generating considerable controversy in 1996. David Shepherd and Simon Taufel will be the men in the hot seats tomorrow.
Given Australia's dominance of the one-day game, which parallels its success in Tests, Bangladesh will not be expected to greatly trouble the home side. Even the absence of one of their key performers, Glenn McGrath, who returned home with an ankle injury yesterday, should not detract from the immensely lopsided odds. West Australian Brad Williams has taken McGrath's place, and there is concern that Andrew Symonds may not be able to play due to an attack of influenza.
Williams, trying to stake a place for future consideration, will be playing his seventh one-day international if chosen for the playing XI. Should that be the case, he has stated that he fully intends to take this opportunity, despite having been out of action since he acted as cover for McGrath during the West Indies tour.
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper and vice-captain Adam Gilchrist has hinted that he may not be too far away from opting out of one-day cricket in order to concentrate on Test matches. He told the Sydney Morning Herald today that because of the pressure of time, it was likely that more players would do likewise. Gilchrist didn't sketch out a timeframe for the option, saying only that it wouldn't be in the foreseeable future.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Michael Bevan, Andrew Bichel, Jason Gillespie, Ian Harvey, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Brad Williams
Bangladesh: Khaled Mahmud (captain), Al Sahariar, Alok Kapali, Sanwar Hossain, Anwar Hossain, Habibul Bashar, Hannan Sarker, Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar, Khaled Mashud (wk), Manjural Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Rafique, Tapash Baisya, Tareq Aziz