It was an Australian journalist who pointed out an oft-overlooked aspect of a match-up between Bangladesh and Australia during the pre-match press conference yesterday, ahead of today’s World Cup match between the sides in Nottingham.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was asked whether they would be motivated by the fact that Australia had not shown their opponents much respect, having cancelled Bangladesh’s tours to the country often, with the latest being a tour that was supposed to take place in October 2018.
“Actually, no. I don’t think we have to prove anything to them, but it’s always disappointing when you’re not touring and [they’re] not coming and you are not playing against such a big side,” Mashrafe responded. “You can learn a lot of things when you’re travelling to places like Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa -- especially for Asian teams. It’s always disappointing when that sort of thing happens. But again, I would say that what has happened has happened; we don’t have to think about it.”
While they do not have to think about it, as a captain who is always thinking of ways to take the team forward, it can be supposed that Mashrafe has thought about Bangladesh not getting enough opportunities to play against the preeminent team of the era.
In the 19 years that Bangladesh have been a Test team, they have played Australia just six times -- the least among Bangladesh’s nine Test opponents. In ODIs too, their 20 matches against Australia is the least among Test playing opposition, with the exception of new entrants Afghanistan and Ireland. In T20Is, the story is the same with the Tigers having played four matches -- 10th on the list.
The last time Bangladesh toured Australia was in 2003 for two Tests in out-of-the-way venues like Cairns and Darwin. Even the drawn Test series in Bangladesh in 2017 could not avert a tour cancellation the following year and Mashrafe doubted that it would be any different were the Tigers to win a World Cup match today.
“We played Test cricket in Australia a long time ago. We played in Darwin and Cairns, as I can remember -- I was a member of the team. Since Darwin we haven’t played any Test cricket in Australia. It’s really disappointing, I know, as a Test nation. But I’m still not sure that even if we win tomorrow, it will fix it,” Mashrafe said with a rueful smile. “But it’s all about negotiating, I think. If our cricket board and the Australian cricket board can negotiate, then it might be possible. But tomorrow I don’t think that this thing will be play on our minds.”