Saturday, 14 July 2007

Where do we stand now? Part -2

Bangladesh started their campaign in international cricket through a 22 run victory in a low scoring match against Fiji in 1979 ICC Trophy. After playing 41 ICC trophy matches with mixed success (26 win, 14 loss, 1 no result) and equal number of ODIs with even lesser success (3 win - Pakistan, Kenya, Scotland and 38 loss), Bangladesh was awarded test status in June, 2000. Bangladesh played first ever test match in November 2000 against India at Bangabandhu National Stadium. After gaining test status they played 44 test matches with a solitary win against Zimbabwe and lost as many as 39 matches. We enjoyed some reasonable successes in ODI and managed 25 wins out of 102 outings.
Awarding test status to Bangladesh is one of the most heavily criticized decisions of ICC and Bangladesh still remains under the microscope of cricket pundits as a test nation. After obtaining the elite status Bangladesh suffered hiccups with religious regularity raising constant concern about the future of Bangladesh cricket.
The picture looks gloomier in the longer version of the game. Apart from Shahriar Nafees and Habibul Bashar in batting and Mohammad Rafiq and Mashrafe Mortaza in bowling, we really don't have players to challenge quality opposition, let alone winning. Habibul Bashar scored about one fifth of all the runs Bangladesh scored in test cricket while Mohammad Rafique took more than one third of all the wickets Bangladesh took in test matches he played. These simple stats only illustrate the poor show by the rest of the players.
In batting, Bangladesh must find suitable alternatives to veteran Javed Omar, Alok Kapali and Tushar Imarn. Neither of them returned enough to keep the faith on and their inclusions make the fragile test batting even more brittle. Mohammad Ashraful must improve his consistency to keep his place in the side. Aftab Ahmed so far failed to take the responsibility of test batting. And the rookies Sakib Al Hasan and Farhad Reza lack technique and experience to seal a deal. Rajin Saleh looks gritty at times but again lacks both consistency and technique which saw Bangladesh paid dearly in some matches. Like ODI team, Bangladesh must find a decent wicketkeeper batsman.

As mentioned previously, bowling is a major concern in our test side. Apart from Mohammad Rafiq no single bowler has the bite in their bowling to win test matches. Enamul Huq Jr. is a very good bowler but still lacks wicket taking ability against quality oppositions, more so on foreign grounds. Mashrafee Mortaza's success in ODI never really translated in tests mainly due to his fitness problem. There is some real hope in Shahadat Hossain who showed the aggressiveness required to be a successful test bowler. The situation looks even ominous unless someone comes up in style and takes the candle from aging Rafiq on time.

The overall situation might look depressing but it is the painful reality. In this situation the ray of light is the young generations who started playing competitive cricket knowing that one day they will feature Bangladesh in tests. These young players have dominated their counterparts in age group level and they believe they can continue dominating them in the world arena. They are declaring their emergence in the domestic circuit as well. It is really encouraging that we have emerging players in almost every discipline. Bangladesh Cricket Board has already taken initiatives to improve domestic infrastructure and formed long cherished Cricket Academy for potential young players. Now, it’s very important to guide and nurture them properly before throwing them in the deep. They are the ray of light, the future of Bangladesh cricket.
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This is what I wrote in February 2007 and was published in my column "Ray of Light" at BanglaCricket. After todays loss I was revisiting the column and really disappointed to find that situation hasn't improved at all.

Some thing changed like captaincy and coach, but the overall performance of the team have probably dipped alarmingly low.

Bashar forgot to score runs, Rafiq has lost his touch, Masharfe is looking simply ineffective. There goes all the hope. Rajin is tirelessly proving his inability and SN is losing his temperament. Aftab has lost his place in the Test team.

The only change is probably Ashraful who secured his place and became captain. Another development can be Mushfiqur Rahim, a more capable wicketkeeper batsman.

The most frightening part is the last paragraph where I mentioned that the young generation will see us through Test cricket. and will do the rescue act. It looks they are not ready yet to play Test cricket. It's early to comment but both Sakib Al Hasan and Mehrab Jr. looks shaky as a Test player. Razzak is not at all penetrating in Tests like ODI, and Enamul Jr. is appeari8ng as a completely different bowler compared to what we saw in 2005.

Now who is around the corner to rescue? I don't see many assured faces. I hope the series against Sri Lanka is really a one off one, transition period after Dav Whatmore, new captaincy and tough opposition, all contributed for the downfall.

I would like to believe that situation will only improve from here, but to be honest, it's looking more ominous than ever before.

Where do we stand now?

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