have you read this ?
Age of mythology-Bangladesh-A test status nation.
We live in a world where we believe much of what we are told by the authorities with the assumption that the authorities know better. For the last five years we have been told by cricket authorities of ICC that Bangladesh is the next cricketing nation in the making which will join the league of the other cricketing heavyweights in future.
We have been five years into the future.What do we have in the heavyweight category of cricket? Sure, we have one superheavyweight in Australia and 7 other heavyweight teams. But Bangladesh is not one of the heavyweights. Forget heavyweight, they are nowhere in the light heavyweight or even middleweight category. At best they are in the lightweight category if we decide to judge them with leniency.
We have been told all these years that Bangladesh had a cricket crazy population and it was only a matter of time before they became a strong test nation. Bangladesh have been a soccer crazy nation for much longer. That has not made them a soccer super power in all these years. How do we know that their cricket craziness will make their cricket any better than what it has been so far? Craziness for a sport translates to excellence in that sport only when the craziness is followed by dedicated hard work to improve the infrastructure and quality of the players. Though the Bangladeshi fans are as crazy about cricket as the fans anywhere else in the sub continent but where is the follow up to translate this into improvement at the grassroots level.
When Bangladesh was accorded test status, it was not based on any consistent showing on the part of Bangladesh in longer version of cricket( 3 days and above)against foreign first class teams such as A teams or state/county teams. Rather it was based on their ODI showing(!) in just one tournament viz. World cup 1999 where they upset Pakistan.
In fact, Bangladeshi players had no experience of playing in longer version of cricket when they were granted test status. They did not have a domestic tournament where 3-4 days matches were held. They did not have a domestic first class setup and a domestic first class tournament when they were granted test status. Their first experience of a first class match was the inaugural test that they played !
It was much like an undergraduate arts student allowed entry into a postgraduate course and that too in science stream.
Predictably, Bangladesh have been flunking their test match examinations despite repeating the same course again and again.
ICC have all these years perpetuated the myth that Bangladeshi cricketers were first class cricketers just about to break into the test league. How could they be first class cricketers when they had no experience of playing first class cricket? All that they had played was limited overs cricket all their lives in their domestic tournaments and against minnow nations.
It was only after a few year since their first test that Bangladeshi cricketers started playing in longer duration domestic matches and we were told by ICC that Bangladesh now had a first class domestic setup in place. How do we know that the teams in that tournament were of first class standard? They were of first class standard in the same way that Bangladesh was of test standard i.e. on paper. In reality the same club level cricketers who were participating in limited overs matches started playing in longer duration matches which were adjudged to be first class matches by BCB and ratified by ICC as gospel. These teams did not play with any foreign teams to find out if they really were of first class calibre or just club level teams masquerading as first class.
The best players chosen from this so called first class setup are then adjudged to be of test class and chosen to play for the Bangladesh test team. So we have a host of test match batting regulars who average in 20s and even less and yet they have been called as Bangladeshi Bradman or Sachin by the Bangladeshi media. All this while Bangladesh continue to lose within three or four days in test matches.
Just when it looked like Bangladeshi misery would continue ad infinitum came a gift from heaven for them in the form of Robert Mugabe. He ensured that the best Zimbabwe players who happened to be mostly white were out of the Zimbabwe national team. The resultant depleted team was so weak that its test status was temporarily revoked by ICC after heavy defeats against Sri Lanka in test matches in 2004. A few months later,Zimbabwe was once again allowed to play test cricket despite its rebel players continuing to stay out and the team remaining as weak at it was when they were being thrashed by Sri Lanka. And guess who it was against. It was against Bangladesh who for the first time faced a team which were more mediocre than themselves. Bangladesh helped themselves to their first test match win and also the first test series win.
Just how weak the Zimbabwe test team was emphasised when a much stronger Zimbabwe team ( bolstered by the return of Streak and Blignaut) lost to South Africa within two days. What it meant was that the Zimbabwe team that was defeated by Bangladesh was weaker than what they were when their test status was revoked. It meant that Bangladesh test victory was against a team which was far below test status. It was not even a first class team. Most probably it was a club level team. So we had a unique spectacle of a first class team(Bangladesh) playing a club team and the match being recognised as a test match. Much like a lightweight boxer beating a flyweight boxer and the authorities insisting that it was a bout in the heavyweight category.
The fact that Bangladesh test team was a no better than a first class level team masquerading as test team was being hidden away zealously by the BCB and ICC by carefully avoiding to play against first class teams.
After the win against Zimbabwe, the BCB themselves began to believe the myth that they themselves had perpetuated that they were a test nation. In their exuberance they requested to be accomodated in an Indian first class tournament and the BCCI agreed to their request by including them in Duleep trophy tournament.
BCB announced a "strong" BCB XI team for the Duleep trophy which raised protests from some Bangladeshi fans that BCB was unnecessarily giving so much importance to an ordinary Indian first class tournament. Some fans even suggested that BCB should have sent one of their weaker "first class" teams such as Chittagong division team for this Indian tournament. The Bangladeshi fans felt that winning the Indian tournament was easier than a walk in the park for their team.
When BCB XI faced East Zone, the weakest Zone in Indian cricket, it aws a massacre and the match was over in just over two days. And no, it was not the weakest zone of India which had lost. It was the "strong" BCB XI which lost by an innings and 90 odd runs. The match lasted 2 days only because the East Zone batsmen occupied more than one day. The 20 wickets of BCB XI fell in less than three sessions against a bowling attack, which is largely unknown outside their own zone.
As soon as the BCB XI lost, the concerned officials were galvanised in damage control who now insisted that this BCB XI was not really a strong team rather it was a very weak team, only the fourth string team of Bangladesh.If it was such a weak team despite the presence of half their test top and middle order then what explained their cockiness prior to the tournament was not explained. Also, it is a mystery what Dave Whatmore, the coach of their national team was doing accompanying this fourth string team. Also, why the BCB abused the fine gesture of BCCI by sending their fourth string team to the premium first class tournament of Indian cricket is as yet not explained by the BCB.
In the next match against the Central Zone, which was a third string central zone side according to the yardstick of Bangladeshi officials( since it missed three of its top players), Central Zone soon had the BCB XI bundled out for less than 150 in pursuit of 351, but inexplicably, instead of enforcing follow on and crushing the visitors on the third day itself, the central zone skipper took upon himself the responsibility to ensure that the BCB XI did not lose the match. Despite his best efforts, BCB XI were still on the verge of a big defeat. Just when another big defeat appeared certain, the Central Zone skipper agreed to a draw with plenty of time still left in the match.
The BCB are at great pains to explain that this team was not a very strong one. When we look at the names, we find that in batting, BCB XI contained almost every batting name that does duty for them in tests. They were missing Omar as opener and Basher in the middle order. Saleh was also missing due to sickness. It is difficult to understand what difference Omar and Saleh would have brought to the batting. Even Bashar may not have made much of a difference when the test team regulars like Ashraful, Nafis Iqbal and Aftab Ahmad came cropper against bowlers who were the weakest among all the Indian bowlers on view in this tournament. Of course the BCB bowling was not the same as their test bowling but then even their test bowlers seldom bowl the opposition out for less than 500 runs.Most likely the full Bangladeshi test team would have lost too.
And it is this suggestion that the weakest first class zones of Indian cricket can beat the Bangladeshi test team by an innings is prompting the BCB to go into the damage control mode and that is why they are taking such pains to suggest that this team was no where near their test team.
Well, one can fully agree. In fact one can go one step further and say that this team was not not a test class team, it was not even a first class team. It was a club team that on a good day( when stars are in their right positions andpigs are flying in formation) can become a first class team. The presence of the test match regulars would have raised it from the level of being a club team and would have made it a first class team. It would not have made it a test team because as we have seen, the Bangladeshi test players come up from a domestic setup which actually is a club set up masquerading as a first class setup. Even the best that the Bangladeshi setup throws up( and do not tell us that the BCB XI players were not the best of their country) are at best of first class standard and no more.
It was the first time the Bangladeshi top(test class by their standard) players played in a proper first class tournament and their true calibre was ruthlessly exposed. If they continue to play against some true first class teams( instead of their sham first class teams or against the second strings of second XIs of Australian, English and South African first class teams), this fact will further get confirmed that these players who claim to be test cricketers cannot compete even against first class teams.
So, in effect one can say that the Bangladeshi test team is not a first class team masquerading as a test team, it is in fact, a club team masquerading as a test team. A club team can realistically aspire to be a first class team, but a club team aspiring to be a test team is pure science fiction. So the truth is much bitter than what we were being told all these years by ICC and BCB. The Bangladeshi test team does not belong to the second tier. In fact, it does not even belong to first class cricket. Let them prove themselves to be a first class team first before we can even talk of them as a test nation ( of whatever tier).