Bangladesh are a team very unfairly done by. They suffer the barbs of being the "worst team in world cricket" when they are actually better than more than half the teams playing regular international cricket; the accusation that they aren't "good enough" for test cricket, when test status itself is no more than an artifact of an elitist and backward system; and the tests they play are derided as "meaningless", "pointless", and "uninteresting", when comparable mismatches between international teams are commonplace. What this test fixture lacked was a context that would make it meaningful and interesting, not a level competition.
Even so, I've found Bangladesh's recent forays fascinating, as in each of the past four games they have crawled past the expected margin, and slowly improved their rating. In the first test against India they needed 143 in the fourth innings; they passed that five down, having been 4/97. In the second, 301 in the third innings; they collapsed over the target six down. Against New Zealand, 186 in the fourth innings; they passed it five down, having been 5/78. And against England, 307 in the fourth innings; passed eight down, having been 5/110. The message is clear: they need to sort their top order out, though the efforts of Tamin Iqbal and Junaid Siddique are commendable, and they need to keep doing what they are doing. Their rating continues to climb, and the small victories mount: the centuries, the fifties, the instances where they bowl out the opposition, or induce a collapse. However, they still lack consistency of play and attitude. Both those problems were clearly visible in this test by negativity at both the toss and in the field, and in the way they played themselves out of the game in the first two days. As commendable as the fight-back was, they need to stop putting themselves in that position if they are to get that elusive victory against a "real" test side.
New Zealand should enter this game with more confidence than at any time in the past decade, being far closer to their trans-Tasman rivals than they have been for some time. In the absence of Bond, O'Brien and Ryder (but mostly Bond), they are a weak line-up, likely to collapse at any moment, and rarely able to produce the sort of bowling spells that win matches. Having said that, Australia's test form is woeful, and they can count themselves lucky that neither the West Indies nor Pakistan were able to capitalise on their weaknesses over the summer. If New Zealand can bat well, this series could prove interesting, but it seems likely Australia's bowling fire-power, even the depleted one sent on this tour, will be too strong.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 16th March, 2010 23:48:21 [#]