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Bangladesh Cricket needs a miracle - Suneer Chowdhary column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Sep 15, 2008
The ruling BCCI faction may have been at logger-heads with the previous incumbent Jagmohan Dalmiya - and his protege Ranbir Singh Mahendra - but would probably be thanking them for allocating Test status to the newest country to feature in the longest format of the game; Bangladesh. And why not? It always helps to garner that vital, extra vote on their side, each time the ICC decides to decide! That pronouncement eight years back from Dalmiya could very well be deemed a masterstroke for the richest cricket board in the world, and despite all the purported good intention behind the same, the real reason does not befuddle too many.

That is beside the point, because going into the in-depth analysis of these political manoeuvrings behind every such decision is nothing more than an exercise in futility. For now, Bangladeshi cricket seems to be in big, big trouble, and it looks like it would not be in a position to get out of the hole in a hurry. In fact, more than a hole, it seems like a quagmire; the more they try and wriggle out, the deeper they seem to be submerging into it.

For starters, if one discounts the farce by the name of Zimbabwean Cricket, Bangladesh looks to be the next in line for the wooden spoon. In fact, the current scenario gives the impression to an on-looking cricket follower, that if their test status was to be scrapped and they were made to play the other Associate nations, they would struggle to establish their supremacy. And one is alluding to the limited overs version of the game here. Talk tests, and one can only shudder to think about its future. Fifty-three tests in eight years of cricket, with a lot more exposure to international cricket, and even more to the ICC funds reserved for the countries with test status, and the only time they have managed to pull off a victory was against a club-side called Zimbabwe in 2005. I bet, most of the Kanga League teams in Mumbai would have been able to get the better of that particular side that Bangladesh had won against.

It isn't the case of not improving. But the grave issue is that each time Bangladesh takes one step forward, they tumble back a couple. One mustn't forget the small matter of beating - and in turn ousting - India out of the 2007 edition of the World Cup. Qualifying for the Super Eights was an achievement of sorts for sure, and it looked like there were greater things in store for this cricket crazy nation. Yet, ever since the end of that World Cup, Bangladesh has lost 25 games to test playing nations without winning a single one themselves!

Quite often in international cricket, it is the captaincy gets a part of the blame attached to any loss, but what we have here is beyond the realms of plain leadership or coaching. It is a pure lack of talent or concentration or in all probabilities both that has caused their cricket to hit rock bottom. The supposed best batsman of the team talks about the pressures of captaincy affecting his batting, but the truth is that with or without this responsibility, his average does not deviate too much away from 25. Mohammad Ashraful's penchant for extraordinary shots with less than ordinary results has been very well chronicled, and that has nothing to do with his captaincy. Same goes with the rest of the batsmen. Some flatter with their silken touch, in a match or two, and then, lie dormant till their next bout of a cameo, which is usually a biennial event.

Others just struggle to find their feet at the international level, till they get replaced.

The one aspect that could probably be a double-edged sword at this point in time is the kind of crowd support the Bangladeshi team has. In fact, one look at the audiences in the stadium for a match at home, would be the easiest way to conclude that the game is as big a religion to the Bangladeshis as it is to a cricket-crazy nation like India. Despite the woeful performances, the support is laudable and this makes me wonder about the lack of talent coming up from the country. Why the two are related is simply because such kind of partisanship does necessitate a chance for the sponsors to tap the market, thus bringing in more money into the sport. This means that the cricketers earn a lot more and attract a lot more such other talented cricketers to the game. Probably the sponsors are looking at a more global audience and apart from the Bangladeshis themselves, not too many consider the matches involving this country as international matches.

And this means that the cricketers do not make as much from the game as they would like to; something that has resulted in a new headache for the cricket board. In fact, headache would be a rather mild term to use at this stage, because if the Indian Cricket League (ICL) had its way, and if the murmurs are to be believed, then a bunch of its cricketers are on their way out to playing in this league. With the country already shorn of talent, a mass scale exodus would hit them where it really matters and the situation may turn very similar to the one in Zimbabwe, albeit for another reason.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. The situation is desperate alright, but one is not so sure about the measures that could be taken here. One can probably only hope for a miracle.
 
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