Bangladesh's cricket dream
By Arjun Sandhu
It is three years since Bangladesh cricketers stepped into the Test arena.
And they are still searching for their first win after playing 24 Test matches, with only a rain-affected draw against Zimbabwe to their credit.
But while the national team is struggling to make it on the international scene, Bangladesh cricket itself is blossoming.
Funding has come from the International Cricket Council, the Asian Cricket Foundation, as well as television money from the World Cup.
All this has enabled Bangladesh to develop an infrastructure which aims to provide adequate facilities to raise the standard of the national squads.
Saleh and Hossain are put through their paces during training
The development scheme has been in place for five years now and Mahbubul Anam, chairman of the Bangladesh Cricket Committee, believes the benefits are beginning to show.
He told the BBC Sport website: "We've been working on a strategic development plan that stretches until 2006.
"We're not losing focus and are sticking to the specific plan, which is showing results in the form of several youngsters making the national side recently.
"The resources are all in place for cricketers to improve their standards.
"Our priority is to provide the infrastructure in different regions to boost the game's growth."
Bangladesh travel guide
The Junior World Cup is being held in Bangladesh in February and March next year and that has fuelled a nationwide expansion plan.
"Playing hosts for the Junior World Cup will be a bonanza in terms of upgraded infrastructure," said Anam.
Currently the only two venues deemed suitable for Test use are Dhaka and Chittagong.
But top-quality facilities are being built in Shylet, Rajshahi, Khulna and Bogra.
The Mirpur Stadium, on the outskirts of Dhaka, is used at the moment for athletics and football but will soon be converted into an exclusive cricket venue.
Only Dhaka (pictured) and Chittagong are suitable for Test use
"The Board's taken charge of it and is in the process of developing it," Anam said.
There are also plans to increase the number of indoor nets from the current one on the capital's outskirts to six.
Money is certainly not a problem for Bangladesh but igniting a passion for cricket in a population of 130m people obsessed with football is less straightforward.
Attempts have been made to increase the amount of cricket played in schools.
There is a programme which involves more than 1,000 schools but the competition is played on a knock-out basis.
This means most schools only play one or two matches a year.
Only the top 16 get adequate opportunities and competitive cricket because they compete in a round-robin league.
There is still a distinct lack of quality of domestic cricket too, which is preventing international players from being able to test their ability before stepping into Test matches or one-day internationals.
Bangladesh certainly have a long way to go but it seems they are serious about their cricket aspirations.
Only time will tell if their ambitions will be realised.
Our priority is to provide the infrastructure in different regions to boost the game's growth."
Maybe you folks can fill me in but is there really a "radical" change for the better in our cricket facilities, outside dhaka. I really hope in a few years we get cricket matches of international calibre outside Dhaka and Chittagong. How about Sylhet or for that matter Keraniganj as a tribute to some of our current stars.
Also when is Mirpur stadium turned on?
[Edited on 8-10-2003 by oracle]