Bangladesh play their 21st Test match tomorrow when taking on Australia at the second new Test venue in the world within a week, at Cairns in northern Queensland.
Their inclusion among the Test-playing nations has long been a point of controversy, especially among teams who had to do much more than Bangladesh did to even be considered for admission to the exclusive Test club. That controversy is warranted given the abysmal time the Bangladeshis have had in their matches.
Even if they did achieve their first victory before completing their 44th Test match, to leave New Zealand as the team that waited longest for a win, it is hard to escape the fact that Bangladesh's entry into the game's top level has been the least successful of all nations.
For all that New Zealand struggled over 26 years and 45 matches to secure a victory, the point is that they managed nothing like the records that Bangladesh have already secured. It is interesting to note that while New Zealand may have waited longest, in their first 20 Tests, they had only Pakistan ahead of them in the fewest losses suffered. Pakistan lost four of their first 20 games, New Zealand six, and Pakistan at least had the advantage of players involved with India before partition occurred.
The teams who suffered the most losses in their first 20 Tests, after Bangladesh's 19, were South Africa and the West Indies who each lost 12 matches. Bangladesh, for all their losses, have been given far greater support in their quest for matches than any other nation and they took the briefest time to record their first 20 Tests. New Zealand and India had their programme of matches interrupted by World War Two.
It is an interesting reflection of the earlier administration of cricket under the Imperial Cricket Conference, that while the West Indies, New Zealand and India were admitted to the Test-playing fold within four years of one another, 1928-32, none of the three met each other until 1948 when the West Indies toured India. India had been due to tour New Zealand in the mid-1930s but famine in India caused the cancellation of plans. New Zealand didn't play the West Indies until 1952, and India until 1955.
New Zealand relied heavily on England's support, much like South Africa had earlier in her Test history, as they each played 17 of their first 20 Tests against England. By comparison, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh enjoyed matches against a much wider spread of nations, although the more traditional larger nations were reluctant to play the new countries often. And Bangladesh has yet to meet England.
Bangladesh have also been guilty of a high turnover of players in their brief time at Test level. They have used 31 players within two years and 252 days since their first Test, compared to 27 Pakistan used in the five years it took them to play 20 Tests.
Playing record of all countries in their first 20 Tests, time span taken to play them and players used in that time (captains used in brackets):
team W L D span time players
Australia 9 7 4 1876/77-1884/85 8y 2d 40 (5)
England 7 9 4 1876/77-1884/85 8y 2d 50 (6)
South Africa 5 12 3 1888/89-1909/10 20y 299d 68 (9)
West Indies 4 12 4 1928-1939 11y 4d 48 (6)
New Zealand - 6 14 1929/30-1949 19y 218d 50 (3)
India - 11 9 1932-1948/49 16y 228d 52 (4)
Pakistan 5 4 11 1952/53-1957/58 5y 118d 27 (1)
Sri Lanka 2 11 7 1981/82-1985/86 4y 29d 36 (3)
Zimbabwe 1 10 9 1992/93-1996/97 4y 8d 33 (3)
Bangladesh - 19 1 2000/01-2003 2y 252d 31 (3)
Bangladesh have had a fair deal early on in their home and away balance of matches, which is marked contrast to some other countries.
Breakdown of home and away matches in first 20 Tests:
Australia 15 5 (all 20 Tests were against England)
England 5 15 (all 20 Tests were against Australia)
South Africa 17 3 (first 16 Tests were at home)
West Indies 8 12
New Zealand 10 10 (all 10 away Tests were in England)
India 8 12
Pakistan 9 11 (first 9 Tests were away from home)
Sri Lanka 10 10
Zimbabwe 10 10
Bangladesh 9 11
Bangladesh's problems are evidenced in the number of innings defeats they have suffered in their first 20 Tests - 14 with the next highest being eight by the West Indies. Had not rain, against Zimbabwe, and Sri Lankan charity when playing a weakened XI which didn't enforce the follow-on as it might have, the number for Bangladesh could have been 16. On the four other occasions they have survived they have set measly targets of 63, 100, 11 and 111.
They are well practised at batting first, it has happened that way in 15 of their 20 Tests.
Innings defeats in first 20 Tests:
West Indies 8
Sri Lanka 5
South Africa 4
New Zealand 3
Not surprisingly, teams have found it difficult to secure innings victories in their first 20 matches, and the list below is interesting given the shape of cricket nowadays. Bangladesh's average losing margin of innings defeats is an innings and 135 runs, and last weekend's innings and 132 run loss to Australia was only the eighth worst in their history. They have suffered two of the nine heaviest defeats in Test history.
They have never had a first innings lead, their closest opportunity was in their inaugural Test when they scored 400 while India recovered from 236-6 to end up with 429. Their average first innings deficit is 273 runs with their own average first innings score being 177. Their worst first innings deficit is 465 runs, when they scored 90 against Sri Lanka who declared on 555-5 at Colombo in 2001.
Bangladesh have three of the four occasions in which a team has conceded a first innings lead on the first day of a Test. Only four of Bangladesh's matches have reached the fifth day. Seven finished inside four, and nine were inside three days.
Innings victories achieved in their first 20 Tests:
South Africa 1
West Indies 1
Last weekend's loss was their 14th in a row, a world record which is five more than the run Zimbabwe are on at the moment. The previous worst had been the eight suffered by England in 1920-21 and 1921 and South Africa between 1888-89 and 1898-99.
The loss was also Bangladesh's 11th successive loss away from home, which surpassed the 10 suffered by the West Indies from 1997-98 until 1999-00. The record belongs to India who went from 1959 until 1967-68 while losing 17 Tests. Zimbabwe are not out of the woods as they have suffered seven away losses in a row. India also have the record for most consecutive Tests away from home without a win. It stands at 43.
Bangladesh have also lost seven successive Tests at home, one short of the record held by South Africa from their inaugural Test in 1888-89 through until 1898-99. South Africa also hold the record for mosts Tests at home without a victory on 24. Bangladesh have nine losses in total at home.
Another record heading Bangladesh's way if they cannot win in Cairns is that of most series losses in a row. That is held by New Zealand who lost 10 between 1950-51 and 1958-59. They are both on 10 at the moment, and one-off Tests are included in this statistic, with Bangladesh having played one of these and New Zealand none during that period.
Tests taken for first victory:
Tests first victory achieved (margin)
Australia 1 v England at Melbourne, 1876/77 (45 runs)
England 2 v Australia at Melbourne, 1876/77 (4 wickets)
South Africa 12 v England at Johannesburg, 1905/06 (1 wicket)
West Indies 6 v England at Georgetown, 1929/30 (289 runs)
New Zealand 45 v West Indies at Auckland, 1955/56 (190 runs)
India 25 v England at Chennai, 1951/52 (innings and 8 runs)
Pakistan 2 v India at Lucknow, 1952/53 (innings and 43 runs)
Sri Lanka 14 v India at Colombo (PSS), 1985 (149 runs)
Zimbabwe 11 v Pakistan at Harare, 1994/95 (innings and 64 runs)
Bangladesh, in 40 Test innings, have only reached 400 once, in their first Test. They have only passed 300 two other times. Their average run rate in Tests is 2.77 while opponents are scoring at 3.66.
Frequency of Bangladesh batting totals in completed innings:
0- 99 4
Their average team total is 181.
Bangladesh avoided being dismissed in 50 overs or less by 7 balls in the second innings at Darwin, but have still been dismissed in under 50 overs 13 times in 40 Test innings. Their average completed innings length is 65 overs.
They have been all out in 39 of the 40 Test innings - in the 40th they were 125 for 3 in their second innings against Zimbabwe at Dhaka in 2001-02, still 199 runs away from avoiding an innings defeat before it rained for two full days to wash out the match.
Frequency of Bangladesh batting time in completed innings:
80- 99 5
60- 79 8
40- 59 16
0- 39 5
Of the 29 fifties and three centuries scored by Bangladesh since their inaugural Test, Habibul Bashar has accounted for 12 fifties and one of the centuries (next best is Al Sahariar and Javed Omar with four fifties each) Habibul has the highest Test average for Bangladesh with 33.10 - the next best is Javed's 23.88 - only seven players average above 20 in Bangladesh's history.
Habibul has scored 1291 runs - that's almost double the next best contributor for Bangladesh (89%, to be precise, more than Al Sahariar with 683).
Bangladesh's batting conversion rate is easily the worst of all countries, with their batsmen reaching three figures less than 10% of the time after making it to 50 (3 of 32 times), less than half as good as the next worst team, Zimbabwe.
Conversion rate of 50s to 100s by all countries:
team 50+ 100s rate
Australia 1986 614 30.9%
Pakistan 824 251 30.5%
West Indies 1238 368 29.7%
Sri Lanka 362 105 29.0%
England 2300 651 28.3%
India 1067 301 28.2%
South Africa 782 191 24.4%
New Zealand 756 173 22.9%
Zimbabwe 179 37 20.7%
Bangladesh 32 3 9.4%
When it comes to bowling, Bangladesh have only managed to dismiss their opponents seven times in 25 Test innings and the cheapest of these was 296 by the West Indies at Chittagong earlier this year. Of the remaining 18 innings, 14 were declarations and the other 4 were teams reaching the winning target.
The average runs per wicket for Bangladesh is 18.3 while the average against is 58.2. Their average wickets taken per innings is 6.6. The most wickets they have taken in a match is 13 (against the West Indies at Chittagong). They have taken as few as two, three and four wickets in three of their matches.
Frequency of wickets taken per innings by Bangladesh:
Bangladesh's highest wicket-taker is Manjural Islam, with 25 wickets at an average of 56.24 in 15 Tests. Bangladesh's bowlers have managed just three five-wicket bags (interestingly, all are 6-fors) - one each for Manjural, Mohammad Rafique and Naimur Rahman.
Khaled Mahmud now holds the world record (at least until he takes more wickets) of the worst bowling average in Test history, having taken one wicket at a cost of 331 (with a strike rate of 570 balls). He passed West Indian leg-spinner Rawl Lewis' effort of one wicket at 318. Alok Kapali has three wickets at a cost of 165.33 apiece also, while former one-day international captain Aminul Islam has one at a cost of 149. Part-time spinner Habibul has yet to take a Test wicket but has already conceded 195 runs (economy rate 5.00). The best bowling average of anyone to have taken even as few as one wicket is Rafique's 9 wickets at 31.33 apiece.
Bangladesh's Test record to date:
P W L D
v Australia 1 - 1 -
v India 1 - 1 -
v New Zealand 2 - 2 -
v Pakistan 3 - 3 -
v South Africa 4 - 4 -
v Sri Lanka 3 - 3 -
v West Indies 2 - 2 -
v Zimbabwe 4 - 3 1
The 31 players used by Bangladesh in their 20 Tests so far:
Akram Khan, Alamgir Kabir, Alok Kapali, Al Sahariar, Aminul Islam, Anwar Hossain, Ehsanul Haque, Enamul Haque, Fahim Muntasir, Habibul Bashar, Hannan Sarkar, Hasibul Hossain, Javed Omar, Khaled Mahmud, Khaled Mashud, Manjural Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mehrab Hossain, Mohammad Ashraful, Mohammad Rafique, Mohammad Salim, Mohammad Sharif, Mushfiqur Rahman, Naimur Rahman, Rafiqul Islam, Ranjan Das, Sanwar Hossain, Shahriar Hossain, Talha Jubair, Tapash Baisya, Tushar Imran.
Bangladesh have one other record of their own - they are the first side in Test cricket to have a batsman wilfully retire out - in fact twice in the same game, the 1561st in history - Marvan Atapattu 201 and Mahela Jayawardene 150 as Sri Lanka racked up 555-5 declared in the 2001-02 Asian Test Championship at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo.
(Statistics compiled by Duane Pettet)