Bangladesh lucky to be at head table

December 21, 2011

by sachintha wijayatunga

It has been great to watch the development of the Bangladesh cricket team, as they have grown into a cricketing force since being awarded Test match status nearly 12 years ago. Well, that’s what I should be saying, but unfortunately it is now clear that this team are making no improvements whatsoever, after another embarrassing series defeat at the hands of Pakistan. If anything, they are going in the wrong direction, which is quite hard to do when you are pushed down a hill on a one-way street by the ICC who have funded the project. Bangladesh have won just three Test matches in this time, and these historic victories came against the lowly West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Test cricket should be exactly what it says on the tin. A Test. However, not when it comes to playing the whipping boys that is Bangladesh. Andrew Strauss was rested for England’s tour of Bangladesh only last year. Surely Strauss’ decision must have registered somewhere at the ICC, that all is not well.

I understand that when you give a country Test match status, there needs to be a bedding in period, as the side will suffer defeats through lack of quality and experience initially. However, that honeymoon period for Bangladesh is long gone. It went at about the same time that Tony Blair left his post as prime minister.

Sri Lanka adapted

Sri Lanka were given Test match status in 1981 and struggled initially, but before long they adapted to their new climate and found ways to draw and even win matches. 12 years after their inclusion with the big boys, they were winning series against England and New Zealand. I’m not sure Bangladesh would even come close to this even if England sent out their Emerging Players who have spent the winter at Loughborough. We have seen some of the world’s best ever players originate from the small island of Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralithran, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene just to name a few.

If you asked the majority of cricket supporters I would guess that they may even struggle to name any player that has represented Bangladesh in the past decade. I’m not questioning that all players that have represented Bangladesh haven’t given their country 100% in effort, but what I am starting to question is the ICC and their provision of this.

There are not many things worse than watching a one sided Test match, and had you tuned into the cricket recently, that is what you would have viewed. This is all at a time when we are desperately trying to save Test cricket.

ICC wake up

The ICC have pumped huge volumes of money into Bangladesh in order to make them a competitive nation in this form of the game. This is funding that the likes of Irish cricket could only dream of.

There are currently nine teams playing Test match cricket, and yet only eight of these sides are good enough to do so. I know the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand have played poor cricket in recent times, but all of these countries currently justify their place within the elite group.

I believe there should be nine Test match playing nations. However, I don’t believe these should be set in stone. I would like to see a play-off between Bangladesh, Ireland, Zimbabwe and whichever other teams believe they are good enough for the step up. The winner of this play-off gets promoted to Test match status. They then receive funding from the ICC for four years and are granted this status for this length of time. At the conclusion of this period the ICC judge whether the team is good enough to become a full Test match playing nation, or if not, they have to qualify again.

I’m sure there are a few Irish players and fans from across the pond that would agree with my views.

The Scoop 21/12/2011

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