“The fans who grew up dreaming about the prosperity of Bangladesh as a Test nation during the 80s and 90s will be hurt. But above all, the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the cricketers must take this issue seriously, while the local media should promote Test cricket more. They must not forget the longevity of cheap jingoism and stupidity has a shorter lifespan”
The Bangladesh cricket fraternity and the nation as a whole are rhapsodic about Mustafizur Rahman aka Fizz. As soon as he landed from India after helping his team the Sunrisers Hyderabad to win this year’s Indian Premier League title, he was given a warm welcome by the politicians as if Fizz had won the World Cup for Bangladesh. The print and electronic media are busy highlighting Fizz all day and night and in some cases, some so-called famous journalists from Bangladesh have become a butt of a joke while interviewing Fizz.
Bangladesh is all about Mustafiz at the moment. Everyone wants to hug him, all wish to have a selfie with him and post it on social media to achieve fame temporarily, and some are busy to take credit for Mustafiz’s discovery while a group of celebrities and seasonal followers of cricket are over-concerned about his fitness and nurturing. But all these people are forgetting – an over-cooked biryani always tastes bad.
By the way, there are more serious issues than Mustafiz to think about.
ICC’s plan to make Test cricket more meaningful
Meanwhile, ICC’s chief executive David Richardson has hinted about one of the most significant changes to Test cricket in the history of the game. According to him, ICC is planning for two divisions in Test cricket with promotion and relegation which has proved effective and productive in the case of football for a brief period. Dave believes the introduction of such an idea will be crucial to keep Test cricket alive and relevant.
Dave said, “There’s a general realization now that, if we’re going to keep Test cricket going well into the future we can’t just say it’s going to survive on its own. Unless we can give some meaning to these series beyond the rankings and a trophy, then interest in Test cricket will continue to waver. The same applies if we allow uncompetitive Test cricket to take place too often.
“If we really want Test cricket to survive, we can’t have the number of Test teams diminishing. We have to create a proper competition structure which provides promotion and relegation and opportunities to get to the top”.
Dave championed various changes in the past to spice-up the limited-overs format and it seems, his idea of the vivification of Test cricket will be implemented as well. If his idea is implemented, then the ten Test-playing nations could be divided into two sets of five or, a top-six and bottom four.
However, the ICC could take the opportunity to utilize this change by increasing the number of Test-playing nations, with Ireland and Afghanistan are always expressing their desire to play five-day matches at the highest level.
Richardson stated the prospect of as many as 18 teams being involved in a multi-league Test competition.
Dave’s concept would see the bottom team from Division 1 relegated at the end of the ‘season’ no matter how many teams are involved, which is strongly favoured to last two years in total, while the top team from Division 2 would be promoted. There would also be scope for a playoff between the second-last team in Division 1 and the second-placed team in Division 2.
Bangladesh should take Test cricket seriously
Now, Dave’s concept to rejuvenate should be a worry for Bangladesh. Since Bangladesh were given the Test status in 2000, their performance in five-day matches has been shambolic. Other than faring well against Zimbabwe and a below-par West Indies unit, the Tigers have been cutting a sorry figure in Test matches with astonishing regularity. Last year, they drew Test matches against South Africa and India courtesy of heavy downpour, and when they faced Pakistan at Mirpur last year, it was a foregone conclusion. The brilliant performance at Khulna — where they drew the first Test– was taken to the cleaners by the vengeance of the Pakistani bowling attack in the second Test.
Sadly, the think-tank of Bangladesh cricket and the media are very reluctant to talk about Bangladesh’s poor state in Test cricket. They are more interested in the Twenty20 format which hardly determines the greatness of a cricketer.
Moreover, Bangladesh cricket’s so-called messiahs are forgetting about their efforts to achieve the coveted Test status 16 years ago. Had Bangladesh not achieved Test status, they would never have been able to reach this level.
Bangladesh were able to play a bilateral series against the top teams only because of being a Test nation. Otherwise, still today, they would have been termed as an Associate nation and their progression would have been stagnant.
According to the ICC’s latest Test ranking, Bangladesh are placed at number 9. If Bangladesh continue to fare poorly in Test cricket, they might lose their credibility as a Test nation and discover themselves playing against the teams of division 2 to regain their lost prestige. This will be a disgrace for Bangladesh cricket whose journey towards achieving the Test status was a long and hard one.
The fans who grew up dreaming about the prosperity of Bangladesh as a Test nation during the 80s and 90s will be hurt. But above all, the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the cricketers must take this issue seriously, while the local media should promote Test cricket more. They must not forget the longevity of cheap jingoism and stupidity has a shorter lifespan.