In the end, the honours were shared after a fascinating tussle between the two teams. The cricket was always riveting, keenly contested and often found itself tantalisingly poised on a knife’s edge.
And while we may or may not be satisfied with the end result, based on how our personal allegiances hinge, it is little short of a miracle that the series was actually played to conclusion.
Security issues had plagued early on, during the initial talks of the series, with the shadow of the cancelled tour of 2015 looming large in the decision-making minds. On that occasion the threat had been pretty specific and darkly ominous, namely, targeting the Australian nationals in Bangladesh.
Exceptions are always there, and the Kevin Pietersen-led England side to tour India in 2008-09 comes to mind, which had the bravura to play days after the Taj Hotel attacks. But, it is not uncommon for international sports teams to cancel entire visits because of the minutest hint of terrorist threats. And in the present age, no one can blame them.
It took all the diplomatic acumen of the Bangladesh Cricket Board to assure the Australians of the safety arrangements, convincing the Cricket Australia security team to allow the team to go ahead.
And then there were other enormous problems.
As the battle on the field became pitched, fighter planes flew across the land and warships took up positions, accumulating in a terrifying frieze a stone’s throw from Chittagong where the second Test was being contested. The tension in the Rakhine state boiled angrily as problems with Myanmar came almost to a head. However, in extreme heat that matched the political tensions, the second Test at Chittagong went ahead.
Then some imbecile threw a stone at the Australian tour bus.
In a climate filled with threats of terrorism and growing signs of war, such a misdemeanour can often take on the proportions of the last straw. Yet, the BCB issued a prompt statement that it was treating the matter with “utmost seriousness” and a “high-power” committee had been formed by the concerned security agencies to investigate the matter. The measures taken were appreciated by the Australian team. Ruffled feathers were smoothened, anxiety was assuaged.
In spite of the thrillers contested on the pitch and the tensions of the immediate environment, not one untoward or ugly incident occurred on the field of play. The series was concluded without a hitch.
It can be said to have been a major triumph for Nazmul Hassan and his associates. They deserve the biggest kudos for ensuring that the focus remained on what matters, namely excellent contest on the cricket field with just the willow and leather as weapons.
It was a triumph of astute administration and wise diplomacy. Cricket is richer for it.