Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Updated: Sunday, May 27, 2007
When whim dominates common sense

Khondaker Mirazur Rahman

When whim dominates over common sense, no team can expect to escape humiliation especially in Test cricket. No wonder, Bangladesh are paying the price of being whimsical, in the short term – a shambolic defeat on Test return, in the long term – more depressing developments are on the way. It takes quite some time to build up an image, and yet it takes no time to tarnish it. Bangladesh took a very wrong time to ruin its hard earned image in a series which was branded as a grudge series, especially after the happenings of March 17 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Fierce and relentless criticism is a part and parcel of Bangladesh Test history. After some significant developments over the last few years, it appeared Bangladesh have finally managed to leap forward, and those dark old days will remain as the birth pains of Bangladesh cricket. The coach and captain, who led the renaissance of Bangladesh cricket, made a horrendous mistake to remind everyone of the dark old days of Bangladesh Test cricket, ironically in this last Test with Whatmore as Bangladesh coach. Nothing could be more shameful for him to see the largest dip in performance graph during his tenure, and he played a crucial role in creating this painful mess.

Everyone expected that Bangladesh will put up a good show after drawing the Chittagong Test, and Whatmore’s farewell Test added some more interest into it. Habibul Bashar, who rued his luck with tosses in the past, managed to win the toss and through that gained the right to use the wonderful batting surface ahead of their opponents. Bangladesh were already depleted due to absence of Shahadat Hossain, one of the heros of the Chittagong Test. Another premier bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, was struggling with fitness, and Mohammad Sharif made a Test comeback after a 5-year injury break. Bashar probably had the ideal stage to take the easiest decision on earth after winnings the toss, bat first, give the bowlers some time to recover and use the fresh legs to dismantle India after posting a good total on a placid surface.

Unfortunately for Bangladesh, the decision which looked obvious didn’t turn out to be the reality. For inexplicable reasons, Whatmore and Bashar decided to make one of the worst gambles in Test cricket history. They invited a batting line-up to use the surface first in which the first five batsmen share about 500 Test caps and 30,000 Test runs between them. What went through their minds in the very moment will be never known. Misreading the wicket is a lame excuse. A captain of 43 Tests and a coach with 13 years experience in the sub-continent should have been able to assess the wicket conditions.

India took the unexpected gift with both hands, and piled a mammoth total to take the game away from Bangladesh. To be honest, Indians have only played according to the merit of the situation. It is Bangladesh, who threw the game away at the very beginning and Indians were lucky to be at the receiving end.

In the process of posting an imposing total of 610-3d, Indians made records after records to rub salt to the wound generously exposed to them by Bangladesh. After 160 overs of testing time under hot and humid conditions, India finally decided to give some relief to the Bangladeshi bowlers. They could have easily broken many other batting records but after dismantling the bowling attack, they decided to toy with the batsmen, .

And the inevitable happened. Bangladeshi batsmen came in the middle with a mountain to climb, after the exhausting two days in the field; they were battered mercilessly by the Indian new ball bowlers. Bangladesh, initially reduced to 7-4, could only manage a meager 118 run in the first innings. India enforced the follow on, and a couple of half centuries from Ashraful and Mashrafe lifted Bangladesh to 253 in the second innings, but could not prevent the predestined fate. Bangladesh plunged to a new low after years of improvements and succumbed to a humiliating defeat inside three days by an innings and 239 runs. Habibul Bashar, the captain, who brought so much misery to the team with the decision, have contributed only 9 with the bat.

After guiding Bangladesh for some glorious moments in his four years tenure, Dav Whatmore probably deserved a better farewell, but he made one of the worst misjudgments of cricket history to make his farewell worth forgetting for all Bangladeshi fans including himself.