When all the practice matches against the Academy side were being cut short by rain and while Bangladesh Cricket Board were busy playing hide-and-seek with the media regarding the new national coach, hardly anyone had guessed such a turn of events at the end of August.
Early on the morning of 24 August, the Bangladesh cricket team will return home from Zimbabwe empty-handed, having lost their only Test match in more than a year as well as meekly surrendering in the one-dayers. Some pride was restored in the end with two consecutive wins in the Bulawayo leg of the tour but it didn’t count for much.
With a new domestic season beckoning, Bangladesh Cricket Board should take a long hard look at the state of the game and where it has gone wrong.
Even though West Indies are coming in October and the best training for the Tigers ahead of the important series is of paramount interest, the BCB must take a stand on the domestic structure and where they stand with the different formats.
Whether or not the BCB employ more first-class games than the shorter formats would determine the value they place on Test cricket. A proper first-class structure is often talked about and if it is not corrected now, especially after the Tigers went down so comprehensively to Test returnees Zimbabwe, it will never be what is required.
The tour of Zimbabwe has also taught the team and the authorities many other lessons, first of which was preparation ahead of a series.
With the board bigwigs spending too much time on how to handle the media, the bigger picture was missed. Preparation wasn’t up to the mark and the BCB’s diplomacy is also put into question as they couldn’t manage an extra game in Zimbabwe.
The board’s international relations can also be mentioned when it comes to scheduling and a better, more balanced tour programme is required for a sustained performance from the national team.
There was also trouble with parts of the team management bringing more confusion into the setup rather than freeing up their mind. It has happened on several occasions and this area must be looked at.
These being said, this particular squad wasn’t so inexperienced as to bat, bowl or field as poorly as it did in Zimbabwe.
If one starts from the bowling department which opened the Test match early in August, only a few have delivered performances that can be encouraging.
Rubel Hossain and Robiul Islam, who just played the one-off Test, were the best bowlers on show, threatening to take wickets and adjusting to the situation quite well.
Shafiul Islam never gave one good performance, a spell or two being impressive while the failure of the spin attack as a whole is now being regarded as one of the key reasons the Tigers couldn’t break the Zimbabweans at crucial moments.
Abdur Razzak hardly posed a threat and the home batsmen figured out a way to deal with Shakib Al Hasan’s version of left-arm spin as well.
Imrul Kayes would like to forget this wretched series and hope that the selectors restore his pairing with Tamim Iqbal for the next series. Tamim did deliver at times, though usually getting out at the wrong time, but Imrul was an accident waiting to happen.
Shahriar Nafees too had the same problem as he lost his way after the chancy half-century in the first innings of the Test match. Junaed Siddiqui, despite the two low scores, could find himself up for selection again as the No 3 position in both Tests and ODIs is not yet settled.
Mohammad Ashraful showed it is possible for him to be sensible, yet disappointing with a poor dismissal in the first innings as well as less than flattering performances in the one-dayers.
Mahmudullah Riyad is facing the biggest threat though he finally cracked it with a good all-round performance in the last game. But it was his fateful slog against Brian Vitori that would haunt the Tigers for a long time.
Shuvogoto Hom Chowdhury and Nasir Hossain offer hope but they should be handled with care and left to play without any pressure to perform.
The Tigers also must begin to look at “other” types of bowlers and find out ways to play them. On too many occasions they have capitulated in front of left-arm fast bowlers, leg-spinners and off-spinners, the sort they hardly get to play.
It will all need to come from the cricket board who must take all responsibility for all the misdemeanours in the game.
Nobody is asking for an Australia-style Argus review thus far, but some old-fashioned common sense would make most of the difference in Bangladesh cricket.
-With The Daily Star input