Bangladesh: Is this the tipping point?
We’ve seen Bangladeshi victories in the past, but the recent series against New Zealand shows more towards great development rather than the lucky outcomes of the past.
Any Australian cricket fan would remember that fateful match at Cardiff in 2005. It set the tone for that Ashes series to follow; Ashraful proved himself to be a rising talent with a power century and tight bowling afterwards proved too much for Australia to assail. That was a seminal moment for Bangladesh; the belief that they could beat anyone was infectious and spread throughout the world.
Sadly that resounding optimism didn’t translate into many more victories against the top nations. The World Cup progression to the Super 8s had its moments, the wins against India and South Africa once again shone the light that this was a side capable of tussling with the major threats, but just as quickly as that success arose, it faded back into Test match thrashings.
The whitewashes against lower nations, such as the player-strike depleted West Indies, or the politically tumultous Zimbabwe, proved very little in context. They were afterall a team that let Jason Gillespie get a double-century… on their home soil.
This 4-0 series sweep against New Zealand feels different somewhat. This was the first time they demanded victories and sought the best possible outcome. At 1-0, they wanted another win to tie the series; at 2-0 the series was their’s and only their’s to win. At 3-0 nothing short of a whitewash was acceptable. That sort of bravado has never been tangible within Bangladeshi cricket circles. It needs to be a facet of their game from now on, as they have the weapons to do it.
The two men who manufactured this series victory have the ability to become a rousing partnership for years to come. Bangladeshi Head Coach Jamie Siddons, a man everyone thought couldn’t change the losing culture in Bangladesh, is finally seeing positive outcomes from his hard work. The other man is the fill-in captain, Shakib al Hasan (the man I feel should be the full-time captain). Shakib, who despite having the captaincy stripped off him for very little reason, has become a force within the ODI game. He is the Number One ODI Allrounder on rankings, being the 41st ranked batsman and 2nd on the bowling rank. He shows the future of Bangladeshi cricket; wise beyond his years and has the blinkers on only for the goals at hand. It shows as well, with leading series figures in both disciplines against New Zealand, with 213 runs and 11 wickets from the four matches. Couple that with great captaincy in the form of bowling, batting and fielding strategy and you’ve got the makings of a International Class Captain who is easily the proper choice for the BCB.
Better still was that this series was won without Tamim Iqbal, the ferocious opener who smacked 837 Test runs this year from only 7 tests. Older mainstays Ashraful and Mortaza were also missing through form loss and injury respectively, so there is depth on the outer for this side that can be called up whenever. This is a ridiculously young side, with no one over thirty, or anyone who will get to that age for the next 5 or so years. All positive signs for a team that’s yet to really earn its spot as a Test Match nation.
What makes this team interesting is how it deploys its own resources and the country’s ability to make allrounders seemingly at whim. Shakib and Mahmadullah earn their spots as batsmen, whilst being able to send down quite effective spin bowling, so the Bangladesh selectors have the ability to play either an extra batsman or another spinner in to supplement the work of the aforementioned. Even with that additional player, there are still three quicks in the lineup, in Shafiul, Rubel and Shahadat. That sort of flexibility is rarely seen in an international tea,. It should be a greater worry to the world at large, as the team can bat to 9 fairly easily and have 7 bowlers to send down their overs.
What is necessary for their growth is the faith and guiding support of the mega-nations. More tests against the top flight is crucial; as an Australian who badly misses cricket during winter, I would love to see the Top-End Tours return, as it was a great chance for Bangladesh to play on Australian wickets. Even better, let them open up the Test summer with matches in Queensland and Tasmania to equip them properly for the future. Here’s hoping they make it, because they are a fascinating case study to follow.
Editor of the True Allrounder
Twitter @JarrodPotter & @trueallrounder