The first six months of 2010 will decide the future of cricket in Bangladesh.
India at home. New Zealand away. England at home. England away.
By my count, seven Test matches, and a passel of ODIs (including Sri Lanka in a tri-series).
If we do well - two Test wins - then we're in with the big boys.
If we collapse in a screaming heap, then the de fact two tier system will become a de jure two tier system, and we are quite simply done as a cricketing country, with no way back.
The BCB have proved their competence by keeping our most important player - Mortaza - in cotton wool against Zimbabwe. He said he was ready, he said he wanted to play, and the BCB, ruthless as always, sat him down to heal up for the really important games while the rest of the lads delivered a 4-1 win.
There's seven Tests. Seven games when we need to score six hundred and fifty runs across two innings and take twenty wickets. Seven games over thirty five days, rain and bad light permitting.
I want to see Eid come twice ... Mohammad Ashraful, you still owe me the cost of a glass of rather good Scotch back during that game at Fatullah. 17 runs, wasn't it ... ok, it was a pretty 17 runs, but I need more off you. You know you can win a game off your own bat, and I know it, and now you have the backup to prove it. Just do it, and remember a cheap ton in a lost game isn't enough.
Masri, mate, you're one of the best bowlers ever to come out of the subcontinent. When you are called, you answer. Just keep giving me line and length and courage, and move it away and cut it back, and don't let the pricks get you down. You're up there with Kapil 'bleepin Dev, mate. You're the man who delivered on the pitches that didn't give crap, and with no support. You can do it. You know you can, and I know you can, and we both know that you will.
Shakib, you've got a mouth on you. You're young. You're arrogant. And you've bloody well delivered. Keep up the good work son. You're a born captain. Back your players & keep backing your ability.
Riyad, you made a good start, but you aren't there. Enamul wants your spot as a bowler, and Aftab wants it as a batsman. And if you want to keep your spot, they have both done enough to make you the first man in to and the last man out of the nets. Line and length son - learn how to drop it there, and play it from there, or we'll talk about this kid who had one good season in the Caribbean, and ended up playing club cricket up in the hill country.
Shahadat, I 'flippin believed in you - I died in a ditch for you. And now, you need to fulfill your promises. Either keep it in the slot, or break some jaws for me. You know how England will go the bash if they need to, so if you're good enough, get your retaliation in first. We need an enforcer, and between you and me, Masri is just too [obscenity removed] nice, so you're the man. And I don't need to see grunts, I need to see bruises, or even better retired hurts. It's time to deliver, and for you to show me you are The Man.
Rasel, mate. You aren't quick. You know it, and I know it. But there's this magic country called New Zealand, and another one called England, where the grass in green, and the pitches are juicy and the wind blows wet off the sea. I'm relying on you there. We need you to drop it in the slot, and move it towards them, and then move it away. We need you to develop a new ball - that deadly, magic Terry Alderman ball, the one that completely bamboozles batsmen. The one that does nothing at all. Give me that, and you're good for anywhere with green grass and cloudy skies, till the age of forty.
Rubel, Rubel, Rubel. You're the new hope, the kid. You moved it both ways against Zimbabwe, so we have you some tougher opponents. So you need to sit down with the tape, and tell me how you'd do Sachin. What's the plan - how do we get him. Come up with a plan, and then we'll talk about your spot as the second quick.
Javed, Shahriar, Habibul and Mohammad (Rafique)... you old stagers, you glorious old bastards who got dumped for the youth policy of those bastards of selectors. We still might need you ... and yeah, Tapash, you as well. We know when your country asks, you will deliver what flesh and blood can - so stay fit. The selectors still hate you, but if the call comes, I know you can answer and will answer.
The rest of you young bastards, you kids in short pants with big dreams. You're good enough. Some of you went to the West Indies and knocked the Indians out of he World Cup, and some of you went back there and kicked the West Indies Test side till they cried uncle and thus broke the lockout. You're playing for your country and you're playing for your future. Don't ever, ever forget that!
You're the Bangladesh Tigers, and this is the six months that will determine whether Bangladesh will continue to play meaningful cricket. Seven Tests. Thirty-five days.
Get me two wins, and it will be enough.
Get me three wins, and you will live forever.