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Dhaka Tribune

Much ado about nothing, saga of country’s Test cricket

The saga of Bangladesh Test cricket since its beginning a couple of decades ago is a vicious cycle that can best be described as 'Much Ado About Nothing'

Update : 15 Feb 2021, 09:22 PM

Every time the Bangladesh cricket team face a disaster in the Test arena, the loud opinions of what to do and what not to do resurfaces. 

However, with the passage of time, those words disappear into the wilderness, just to come back even louder in the wake of the next disaster. 

During the period of one catastrophe to another, none seems to really care about taking the measures to prevent the forthcoming ignominy and the inevitable arises with more hullaballoo. 

The saga of Bangladesh Test cricket since its beginning a couple of decades ago is a vicious cycle that can best be described as “Much Ado About Nothing”. 

Like a dark comedy, the cycle is perpetual and despite endowing excruciating pain to the lovers of the country’s game, from hindsight it is a perennial fuss.     

Following Bangladesh’s 224-run humiliating defeat in the one-match Test series against Afghanistan, the newbie in the arena, back in 2019, the critics had come hard and the Bangladesh Cricket Board had promised a path to improvement in the format. 

A year later, Bangladesh stands in a similar position, having just conceded a 2-0 series whitewash at home against an inexperienced West Indies, whose strength was dilapidated with the withdrawl of some senior players from the tour.

Windies players successfully appeal the dismissal of Mushfiqur Rahim AFP

Discussions are high on what went wrong both on and off the field. 

BCB president Nazmul Hasan, who is known to come up with opinions on most issues regarding the country’s cricket, came hard on the team, through media, mentioning of what was not done or could have been done. 

There however is, a fine line. 

There is a big debate if the defeats are simply outcome of the errors on the field or of a system that is simply unable to produce any good result.

There is no doubt to the claim that the Bangladesh cricketers failed to execute in both the Tests against the Windies and that there should not be any justification behind these shortcomings. 

But apart from the cricketers, the fingers, like always, and perhaps rightly, are also being pointed towards the system.

BCB boss Nazmul during the press meet Sunday revealed with discontent how Soumya Sarkar had made it into the squad as a replacement to all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, and eventually played as an opener in the crucial game.

Shayne Moseley takes a catch to dismiss Nazmul Hossain Shanto AFP

“When I heard Shakib is injured and that we will need a replacement for the second Test, we made a list of options. I had Akram (Khan), Minhajul Abedin, Khaled Mahmud and Habibul Bashar in front of me. I gave them four to five options which included Mahmudullah then Mosaddek Hossain, Mahedi Hasan and Soumya as the fourth option. They chose Soumya,” Nazmul had informed.

The statement raised questions on the process or the thought that was put behind the selection. 

BCB as part of its central contract offers separate deals to it players – for red-ball and white-ball. 

The four names that were looked into as replacement of an important player like Shakib, none of them are part of the red-ball setup. 

To many this indicated that the fault line goes to the very root of the process – being unable to provide a proper back up at a crucial time.

There is big discussion in the arena if Bangladesh, despite playing the longest format of cricket for over 20 years, has been able to develop importance towards this format of cricket. 

Every time a Test match or a series is lost, a common excuse comes in the team of not playing enough Test cricket but they are not playing enough domestic matches as well.

Tamim Iqbal is cleaned up AFP

The two first-class tournaments of the country, National Cricket League and Bangladesh Cricket League, are often held when the national team cricketers are busy with international schedule. 

But when it comes to the two premier white-ball cricket tournaments, Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League and Bangladesh Premier League T20, BCB makes vigorous efforts to find free slots in the calendar to ensure the national cricketers’ participation.

Say for instance the upcoming season of NCL, a four-day tournament involving eight divisional teams divided into two tiers. 

The regular domestic cricket competitions have remained suspended since March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The board is mulling to get domestic cricket to the field through the NCL next month, when the majority of the Bangladesh cricketers will be busy touring New Zealand.

The lack of care for longer version games is perhaps the biggest reason players are failing to adapt as Test cricket is not a place to learn but rather an ultimate place to show one’s mettle. 

Without being properly equipped by playing domestic cricket, it is impossible to get good results in the Test arena. 

Nayeem Hasan is dismissed as the West Indies players celebrate AFP

It is like asking someone to face the fire of war field without having training or equipments. 

Unfortunately, the trend is continued in the lower levels as well. 

Not only first-class cricket, there is hardly any serious tournaments in the second or third tier of the country. 

There is hardly any opportunity for millions of youngsters to groove and ascend through a proper system. 

And the result?

A big joke, huge tremor for nothing, almost a Shakespearian comedy on a grand stage.

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