Sunday, December 21, 2014
Updated: Saturday, January 01, 2011
|Work in Progress and Pascalâ€™s Wager â€“ Bangladesh in 2010.|
|2009 was the year that Bangladesh recorded their maiden Test series victory against a higher ranked side. But as sweet as that victory was for players and fans alike, to some it will always be tainted by the fact that the Tigers faced a second-string West Indies side. 2010 began with the promise of much sterner opposition for Bangladesh and while they failed to register any Test victories in 2010, Shakib Al Hasanâ€™s men have played enough good cricket to demonstrate that they are maturing as an international team.
Bangladesh started 2010 with a tough home series against the mighty Indians and the wily Sri Lankans. In the Test series against India, Shahadat Hossain led an aggressive bowling display that had the much- vaunted Indian batsmen ducking for cover. Virender Sehwagâ€™s indiscreet comments ahead of the series clearly riled the Bangladeshis, resulting in the unusual sight of Bangladeshi bowlers sending down fast, short-pitched deliveries against the accomplished Indian batting line up. Rahul Dravidâ€™s cut right cheek care of a Shahadat Hossain bouncer together with a record breaking second wicket partnership of 200 between Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddiqui, atTest to the fact that the current generation of Bangladeshi cricketers do not conform to the stereotypes of their predecessors.
Test Cricket in 2010
And it did not end there, Bangladesh also took five of those seven Tests into the fifth day of play and in ten of those innings they managed to post a score of at least 250. There was a time when Bangladesh lacked the wherewithal to bat effectively against fast bowlers in foreign climes, in 2010 Bangladesh showed encouraging signs to shed that particular monkey off their backs.
Alas, while the batting was at times encouraging, Bangladeshâ€™s bowling in 2010 left much to be desired. On pitches where spin is a significant factor, Bangladesh can hold their own, but where the conditions favour seam, the Tigers have limited options. Shahadat Hossain continues to bowl capriciously (so much so that he is no longer considered suited to one day cricket) and with the exception of Rubel Hossain and Shafiul Islam the cupboard is pretty bare as Mashrafe is still struggling with injuries.
ODI Cricket in 2010
Highlight of the Year.
Player of the Year.
Player to Watch.
But it is a left arm spinner whom I have selected as the player to watch in 2011. The wonderfully-named Suhrawadi Shuvo has only just embarked upon his international career, but a string of impressive performances against New Zealand and Zimbabwe in the latter half of 2010 has shown that he may well be the man to plug the gap left by that admirable old war horse, Mohammed Rafique. The left armer from Rajshahi is an athletic fielder and a handy batsman and has impressed in domestic cricket for a number of years now. 2011 could be the year he makes his mark on international cricket.
Prospects for 2011.
One such matter is the captaincy. Shakib Al Hasan seems to be a reluctant captain while Mashrafe Mortaza is an incapacitated one. Indecision breeds instability, if neither man wants the job or is not deemed fit enough, the selectors must avoid dithering and promptly appoint an alternative. Mushfiqur Rahim has been groomed for the role in the past and is a player whose position in the side is all but certain. On the other hand, Abdur Razzak is an experienced and widely respected senior player and either of them would make a reasonable captain.
The perennial conundrum of Mohammed Ashraful also needs to be finally put to rest. The architects of Bangladeshâ€™s greatest achievements of recent years have been the new crop of players; the likes of Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim. These are all players who graduated to the senior side in the past four or five years. Though comparatively young, Ashraful in fact represents the previous generation of players whose defining characteristic was an ability to self-destruct.
Like selection panels before them, Chief Selector Rafiqul Alam and his colleagues continue to put their faith in Ashraful in what can only be described as a sort of warped version Pascalâ€™s wager on the existence of God. Alam appears to believe that it is better to continue to select Bangladeshâ€™s most underachieving batsman in the hope that he will one day play to his full potential, rather than to leave him out and risk eternal damnation.
Ashraful will no doubt participate in the 2011 World Cup and while it is to be hoped that he will live up to his billing, a number of talented young batsmen such as Naeem Islam and Jahurul Islam surely do not deserve to have their prospects of advancement blocked due to blind faith on Ashraful. The selectors must quickly decide whether to finally put Ashraful to pasture until he can prove his worth.
2011 is a year of opportunity for Bangladesh. As a World Cup beckons, in the early part of the year, the Tigers should string together some respectable performances on the familiar pitches of Mirpur and Chittagong. They will also have the opportunity of repeating their one-day feats against New Zealand in the Test arena, with a two match Test series planned immediately after the World Cup.
Bangladesh have made some progress in 2010 and even made a little bit of history along the way. If they are able to continue this trend, people may well look back at 2010 as the year when the Tigers finally turned the tables, the year they began to feel at ease among the elite club of Test cricketing nations.
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