Bangladesh Test Cricket is in a dismal state to say the least. Our Tigers have been brave in ODI and T20 matches but surely they have proved themselves unsuccessful in Test cricket. They have, with almost 19 years’ experience in Test cricket, lost the recently held Test match against Afghanistan, which may be considered a new entrant as far as Test cricket is concerned.
Don’t misunderstand me; I am a proud fan of Bangladesh cricket. It is out of sheer frustration that I have to come out with such a harsh statement about our cricket. When an international cricket team with 19 years of experience in Test cricket cuts such a sorry figure with a team like Afghanistan (without taking away the credit from them) what else can we say about it?
Cricket, as we all know, is a game of intelligence, dedication and application. The team management has to take into consideration the prevailing circumstances, understand the condition of the pitch, its own strength and the strength and weakness of the team against whom they are playing, and then take decisions as required.
Let’s take the case of the just held Indore Test, the first of the two Bangladesh vs India Test matches included in the line-up for Bangladesh’s tour of India. A five-day Test match ended in less than three days, Bangladesh conceding an ignominious defeat against India by an innings and 130 runs. It was indeed a nightmare for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bat first. They were bundled out for 150 runs in 58.3 overs in their first innings. On the other hand, India batting second declared their innings at 493 for 6 with a 343 run lead. They didn’t have to play the second innings. The ultimate result was a scintillating win for India in less than three-days.
India is a very strong team holding the number one position in the ICC Test ranking, whereas Bangladesh occupies the 9th position in the ranking. No wonder the Tigers had to face a tough challenge from India but everybody expected that they would put up a good fight. They have miserably failed in that respect.
Yes, India has, at the moment, excellent pace bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Md Shami and Umesh Yadav, world famous spinners like Rabindrachandra Aswin, and superb batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Pujara, Agarwal, Ajinkya Rahane; but can we not say that Bangladesh are not lagging that far behind with potentially great batsmen like Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mominul Haque, Imrul Kayes and Liton Das and spinners like Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, in the team?
Here comes the question of taking the right decision at the right time; here comes the question of prudence and intelligence. If we take the pitch report and other factors into consideration, the captain of Bangladesh team, having won the toss was expected to field first. Instead, he chose to bat.
The wicket with green and dry surface was, according to the cricket experts, more favourable for bowling rather than batting first, but Bangladesh opted to bat. Even Indian captain Virat Kohli said, he would have taken fielding first if he had won the toss. The wicket was more favourable to pacers than spinners. India had three pacers and two spinners. Bangladesh included only two pacers with Test playing experience of two to six matches only and two spinners in their 11-member squad. They could have included pacer Mustafizur Rahman in the team.
Nobody understands what on earth made the Bangladesh team choose to bat first and why they had only two pacers and two spinners. The Tigers knew their weakness in batting ability without the two top-class players Tamim and Shakib. Yet, they chose to bat first against three top class Indian seam bowlers on a bouncy wicket. The result was anybody’s guess.
Bangladesh cricket, especially Test cricket, is going through a critical stage. The team must find ways to improve its standard as a Test playing nation. Cricket is a very popular game in Bangladesh. It has an unbelievable number of fans. There is no lack of cricket talents. There is no shortage of fund either. Cricket legends like Gordon Greenidge, Dav Whatmore and Cortney Walsh have been coaches for our boys at a huge cost. Yet why they are, more often than not, failing to live up to our expectations is something to worry about.
One thing is for sure that Bangladesh’s domestic cricket has yet to come up to the standard required to produce good Test cricketers. One fundamental reason is that we do not have sufficient number of fast moving, bouncy pitches like that in England, Australia or South Africa. We are not accustomed to playing swing bowlers on our home ground. In general, our pitches are flat with low or no bounce. As a result, our boys find themselves at a loss when they go abroad and face fast, bouncy and swing bowling. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) needs to look into this matter with the urgency it demands.
Captain Hussain Imam, Master Mariner (UK), is a retired merchant navy officer. Email: email@example.com