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News Analysis

Bangladesh look for opportunity in seasonal change

Bangladesh's home series against India and South Africa were hampered by rain but the monsoon months could offer a chance to host more limited-overs series

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Persistent rain delayed the start of play on the third day, Bangladesh v South Africa, 2nd Test, Mirpur, 3rd day, August 1, 2015

Only four days of play were possible in the two-Test series between South Africa and Bangladesh  •  AFP

Is cricket in the monsoon season a viable prospect in Bangladesh? The Bangladesh Cricket Board is not completely convinced by the idea.
In their mid-season at home with international games, Bangladesh hosted India and South Africa in June and July. The hosts won the ODI series against both sides but all three Tests were affected by rain. While it is not common for cricket matches, even domestic ones, to be played between June and September in Bangladesh, the BCB had few options when it came to the scheduling of the India and South Africa tours. The ICC's previous future tours programme (2012-2020) and the latest one drawn up in February 2014 included two international series in Bangladesh in June-July 2015. The BCB's CEO, Nizamuddin Chowdhury, said another factor in the scheduling was that India and South Africa could only tour at this time.
"Definitely, this is not a viable option but this is an available option we have taken, simply," Chowdhury told ESPNcricinfo. "We have had to compromise because this option was available.
"We had communicated with the boards with whom we had scheduled cricket during this time. The response that we have received from the boards, we didn't have any other option but to follow this schedule. These two series were decided three-four years ago. I have always addressed these issues immediately."
The cricket off-season coincides with the monsoon months in Bangladesh. Domestic competitions have rarely spilled over into these months, with a notable exception in 2012. Before this year, the only international matches played in June were in the 2000 Asia Cup, the 2008 triangular Kitply Cup and the 2014 ODI series against India.
This year's India tour was one of the four series confirmed between the BCB and the BCCI last year. The sides played out a rain-interrupted Test in Fatullah in which only 184.2 overs were possible. The second day's play was washed out. None of the ODIs against India went into reserve days but there were two rain-breaks in the second match.
The two T20 internationals and the first two ODIs against South Africa were rain-free but the third ODI was affected by stormy weather and only some brilliant work from the groundsmen in Chittagong, and the effective drainage system, ensured there was a game.
The Test series against South Africa was affected by a brewing cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. In Chittagong, no play was possible on the last two days of the first Test. In Mirpur, play was possible only on the first day.
Hashim Amla, South Africa's Test captain, called it the most "bizarre" series he has ever played. For Bangladesh, however, rescheduling the series would have pushed it out of the current international cycle that ends in 2023, a long delay the board could not afford because the team plays few series as it is.
After the fourth day of the Mirpur Test, which was washed out earlier this week, Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah was asked whether he supported cricket at this time of the year.
"I want cricket to be there all year long, although this is the monsoon season and it completely depends on the cricket board," Mahmudullah said. "They can tell you better. But as a cricketer, I want cricket throughout the year. I want to be busy all the time. It is always better to play cricket."
The BCB feels the Bangladeshi summer could be of use if they can find teams to play limited-overs cricket. Chowdhury said that, unlike other cricket-playing nations, Bangladesh did not have the luxury of playing a lot of international cricket in their main season from October to May.
"We will consider the team's availability if it is one-day cricket. We can keep the option of one-day or a limited-overs series and try to hold matches at this time of the year," Chowdhury said. "Like other big teams, we don't have that much cricket in our schedule. We will try to play as much cricket as we can. For that, we don't think about profit or loss but give priority to holding the series, to the cricket."
Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh's Test captain, said that matches should be organised during the proper cricket season, especially against teams like South Africa and India.
"We want to play against big teams like Pakistan, India, South Africa and Australia during their or our season," Mushfiqur said. "But they are busy in those times and can't find time to play against us. I wouldn't say the weather was that bad this time. A cyclone had a major effect on the Test match. I hope that in the future, we can play these series in our season."
According to the new future tours programme (2015-2023), Bangladesh are supposed to host Pakistan in July 2017, and the Asia Cup is scheduled for the same period the following year.
Since gaining Full Member status, Bangladesh have had several long breaks from international cricket which has hurt their rhythm, and many players have complained about how this has affected their form. For the side, the monsoon season could offer a practical option to host more limited-overs matches.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84