Posted by: nestaquin | April 12, 2008

Bangladeshi Blues

I must admit that I seldom have the opportunity to watch the inexperienced cricketers from Bangladesh strut their skills. I have seen them at world tournaments like the World Cup and T20 World Championships and naturally when they play Australia but apart from those rare events I have seen little of them.

While I admit to being no expert on Bangladeshi cricket I have had the pleasure to watch them on at least a dozen occasions and have always marvelled in the spirit, sportsmanship and respect that seems to be perennially on display.

My first sight of the talent inherent in Bangladesh was in 2005 when against the odds they upset the World Champion Australian team at the unlikely venue of Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

Mushrafe Mortaza bowled an almost perfect opening spell and the wily Mohammad Rafique bowled as tight a ten overs of orthodox left-arm spin that you’d ever likely see. It was a brilliant fielding performance yet Australia still finished there allotted overs with a credible 249/5 and were expected to win.

In Banglaesh’s reply the game was in the balance at 51/2 in the 16th over when the baby-faced Mohammad Ashraful turned the game with an outstandingly innocent century. He played each ball on its merits and pulled and drove with such unabashed exuberance that he astonished the frustrated Australia with his skill and unadulterated joy.

I remember the standing ovation that the whole Bangladeshi team received at match end. They played cricket how it should be played; Honestly, skilfully, courageously and vibrantly.

Much was expected of Habibul Bashar’s young team after that match but unfortunately the performance in that match was a flash in the pan.

It wasn’t until the 2007 World Cup that the Bangladeshi cricketers stood tall again. They rolled the Indians with ease to qualify for the next stage and once again Mushrafe Mortaza and Rafique set up the win with outstanding bowling performances.

In the Super Eights they covered the expert’s faces with egg by humiliating the trash talking South Africans in Guyana. The influential star of this match was the precocious Ashraful but after these two excellent wins they inexplicably lost to Ireland ending their hopes of a semi-final chance.

The tournament summed up Bangladesh perfectly. They have talent and skill, a few emerging world-class players but they are horribly inconsistent. This lack of sustained performance explains their poor record in Test matches and it remains the most important aspect missing from the Bangladeshi game.

Recently, South Australian Jamie Siddons, a known hard nut, was given the job of instilling this component into the national squad. Siddons, perhaps the most regarded Australian coach outside of Tim Nielsen, was John Buchanan’s deputy for several years and there is little he doesn’t know about the technical aspects of cricket.

Bangladeshi cricket has plenty of enthusiasm but few resources and Siddon’s has an uphill task to instill the professionalism that he is accustomed so that he can succeed in his personal dream of coaching the Baggygreens.

To achieve consistently internationally Bangladeshi cricket needs resources at the school and teenage levels so that their vast cricket loving nation can reap the benefits. Rest assured it will happen at some time in the future. For cricket and for Bangladesh, I sincerely hope that it is sooner rather than later.

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Responses

  1. I like the kid behind the stumps too.

    Maddening this lack of consistency – it’s not as though the players are inexperienced. Soon to be a force, but I thought that five years ago.

  2. they have got good mixture of pace and spin bowling and are good fielding side if not best…

    got some good batsmen to…but the problem with them seems to be taking their game to next level…

    i think they are lacking in self belief…that is reflected in their confusion to build innings…one day they will turn out all gun blazing like hell…another day they will cease to play…

    it will take an effort from coach, and more than anybody i think they are perfect case study of mental conditioning sports expert…

  3. Good post Nesta. Past Point also had a post on Bangladesh and this is what I commented there:

    ________________________________________
    Your right in comparing them to the Lankans and their rise in the mid 90s.

    One thing that everyone needs to realise is that Bangladesh is a very very young team. The average age is below 25 I think. They have never played international cricket consistently with an experienced side.

    The Lankans didn’t turn into a top 4 team overnight. It took a lot of hard work. By the time they won the world cup their core group of Ranantunga, De Silva, Mahanama, Gurusinghe, Wickremasinghe had been around for a good 5-6 years playing together. Plus they had talented youngsters in Jayasuriya, Murali, Vaas, Kalu to support them. Actually Jayasuriya had also been around for 5 years in 96.

    For Bangladesh it is important for them to identify their core group. For me its Ashraful, Tamim, Nafees, Murtaza, Aftab, and Sakib. They need to build their team around these players and persist with them.
    _________________________________________

    The WC07 victory over India that u mention was something special. I say that cos the 3 batsmen who knocked half centuries to chase down India’s 190 odd were all 18 yr olds.

  4. Bangladesh are really, really bad. The comparisons to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are constructive. Both of those sides were able to bat long enough to get draws pretty regularly, even from early in their Test-hood. Bangladesh struggle to get even respectable losses. They had a good run back in 2003/4, with five not-completely-hopeless (and even pretty good) performances in six Tests. They had a one-wicket loss to Pakistan, and fought out a genuine five-day draw against the Windies.

    After that, they reverted to being the most consistently bad team in Test history. They score their runs at almost 3/over these days – they need to slow down and bat for longer.

    I don’t really know what it is – batting more sensibly and bowling more tightly won’t get them where they need to be. Based on their ODI performances, they deserved Test status in 2005. But even just looking post-2005, their Test performances are far worse than Zimbabwe’s or Sri Lanka’s. Maybe the wrong attitudes set in or something, I don’t know. They’re not helped by the attacking cricket leading to less draws in the modern game, but they’re still way behind where they should be.


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