Vol. 4 Num 169 Thu. November 13, 2003  

The party falls flat

Has the Bangladesh bubble burst? Gett-ing the right answer could be a tricky prospect.

The Tigers may have lost by convincing margins in the three one-day internationals and also in the second Test against England but still it's difficult to assess their actual standard.

This same team has surprised the mighty Australia in Australia, gave Pakistan sleepless nights at their own backyard and dominated England till the last morning of the first Test in Dhaka. Surely they have some quality to have performed like that consistently.

That makes it more perplexing as all of a sudden they have found the likes of Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Richard Johnson and their fellow brisk medium pacers tougher propositions than Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami.

There is a school of thought that suggests that the players were tired which is true. But in this crazy commercial world of international cricket, that's the least acceptable excuse.

It will be also unwise to criticize the selectors too much for giving five players their first taste of international cricket (four in the one-dayers and one in the Test series) during the course of the tour.

There's no harm in injecting new blood and there's always the prospect of the gamble paying rich dividend. But if one does want to point a finger, it has to be towards the decision to give three absolute rookies their debuts in the same match (first one-day international at Chittagong). That does upset the balance.

Much has already been said about the appalling bating, a non-performing captain and a dispirited side that chickens out while playing in front of the home crowd. But first and foremost, what stands between Bangladesh and result is a totally outdated cricket culture.

The batsmen do not have the habit or history of making big scores in domestic cricket. How can you expect them to come up with healthy innings' against quality bowling of quality international sides?

While the rest of the country plays four-day games in the national championship, the Tigers members are either too busy touring or training in the camp. The only time they get to play the longer version is in the Tests. That tryst with fire is no way to improve your skill.

For any batsman or bowler, there's no substitute to match practice. Staying in the national camp deprives our top players of that vital confidence boosting opportunity to make a mark in the first-class form.

So there's a gap between the supposed best cricketers in the country and the ones playing regular domestic cricket. Coach Dav Whatmore is still in the dark about the second lot as he hasn't had the time to look into domestic cricket because of his busy schedule with the Tigers. Who amongst these two sets have the better ability is a topic for another debate.