West Indies and Bangladesh, peculiarly, have similar objectives, as they prepare for the opening cricket Test of their two-match series, starting today.
With the chorus for a two-tiered system in international cricket steadily rising, West Indies (ranked eighth) and Bangladesh (rated last on the 10-team International Cricket Council Test table) will want to silence those that strongly feel that way.
“There are many reasons why we are not going to take this series lightly,” West Indies captain Brian Lara told reporters yesterday. “Bangladesh are an improving team. I think they showed that they have come to play hard, aggressive, competitive cricket. In the preceding One-day International series, I think their performance was very creditable and we have got a job to do.
“We have to win this series and win it convincingly, so taking it lightly will not be the right thing to do.
We are looking forward to it and everybody is pumped up and there are plenty of guys who want to establish themselves ahead of the tour of England.”
Over the last decade, West Indies have become a shadow of the side that set lofty standards in the game between the late 1970s and early 1990s.
Since they lost the final Test of the 1995 home series against Australia that broke the 15-year sequence of unbeaten Test series, West Indies have suffered a dramatic decline that has seen them complete 25 wins as opposed to 46 losses in 95 Tests.
“Our all-round game is not coming together at any one time and that is something against which we have to guard against any opposition,” Lara said.
“This has been something we have been working on - getting the team to work together and getting all facets of the game together everyday of a Test match. Hopefully, we can see some of this coming through in this Test series.”
Since their elevation to Test cricket in November 2000, Bangladesh’s record is horrifying. They have lost all but two of the 28 matches they have contested — registering just two draws in rain-ruined Tests against Zimbabwe.
“Every match we play we have an opportunity to stem the rising tide of criticism levelled at us and I think to a certain degree we have achieved it,” Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore remarked.
“It has not been reflected in wins yet. Within the team of itself, we have our own goals to achieve and, lately, we are achieving them more often than not.”
Some of the hostility directed at Bangladesh may have been tempered during the ODI series. The visitors lost the first match by one wicket and another in the last over to show their competitiveness, but West Indies are still the overwhelming favourites to win the two Tests.
The series has been unkindly described as ‘the battle for the wooden spoon‚’ in Test cricket, considering Zimbabwe’s shaky position in international cricket at the moment.
Kent Crafton, the head groundskeeper at the Beausejour Stadium, has indicated that the pitch will not favour the spin bowlers and has advised West Indies to stick to the four-pronged fast bowling attack.
The unpredictable weather that has been affecting the Caribbean in recent weeks stayed away over the last few days and the ground was bathed in brilliant sunshine yesterday, but the long-range forecast promised a 30 to 50 per cent chance of rain.
WEST INDIES (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Tino Best, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Pedro Collins, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Ridley Jacobs, Jermaine Lawson, Dave Mohammed, Ravi Rampaul, Devon Smith, Dwayne Smith.
BANGLADESH (from): Habibul Bashar (captain), Alamgir Kabir, Alok Kapali, Enamul Haque Jr, Faisal Hossain, Hannan Sarkar, Javed Omar, Khaled Mashud, Manjural Islam Rana, Mohammad Ashraful, Mohammad Rafique, Mushfiqur Rahman, Rajin Saleh, Tapash Baisya, Tareq Aziz.
UMPIRES: Daryl Harper, Jeremy Lloyds, TV Replays: Basil Morgan.
MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama.
Source: Trinidad Guardian
[Edited on 28-5-2004 by pompous : bolded some of the interesting paragraphs