Category Archives: Bangladesh

Is Bangladesh The Next Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka only started to play international cricket consistently in the 1980s. And for the most part, its early days, like Bangladesh’s, seemed pretty bleak — I don’t have the exact figures (I’m very, very lazy), but after perusing StatsGuru, I didn’t get the sense that Sri Lanka could be viewed as a competitive option during its first decade. (Oldies, feel free to call me out if I’m wrong.)

But here’s the surprising thing: for some reason, I assumed that new cricket teams’ success should look like a S-curve. That is, gradual improvements and wins that incrementally build on each other over time. But that wasn’t the case — Sri Lanka’s win-loss ratio looked relatively unremarkable until the mid-1990s, when it just took off (and, of course, when it won the 1996 World Cup). So two questions: a) Does the expression “we have to learn to win” actually have validity? That is, can losing teams suddenly just snap out of it by stringing together winning streaks? b) Can success be bought ‘on the cheap’? Rather than looking for 11 great players, do you just settle for a handful [Tamim, Shakib, maybe Mortaza?] and hope the rest can play support?

[P.S. Following a previous discussion w/ Idle Summers, I’d assume that Bangladesh has a much brighter future, given that its population — about 140 million — is roughly six times that of Sri Lanka’s. Also, it occurs to me that Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all been coached at one point by Dav Whatmore. Maybe he has the secret sauce to success?]

Bangladesh Cricket Needs Help

I’m sure this is exactly what the prime minster of a country of nearly 150 million people should be spending her time on:

Akram Khan, the Bangladesh chief selector, has withdrawn his resignation letter and will continue in the position. Akram said that he had changed his decision after meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

 I don’t know why cricket in South Asia runs through the politician’s office. It boggles my mind that the Pakistani president, the Sri Lankan prime minister/sports minister/president, and the Bangldeshi prime minister make time in their daily agenda to look into questions of selection policy, like, say, whether or not Tamim Iqbal should open in the Asia Cup. Good grief.

The Definition of Cricket Sportsmanship

I loved Mohammad Islam’s story on Nasir Hossain’s debut century for Cricinfo, including this great little detail:

During the partnership, Nasir moved closer to a century, and it was two unlikely sources that pushed him to go for the three-figure mark.

“First Younis [Khan] bhai, and then Umar Akmal told me to go for the hundred when I was around 75. That’s when I decided to go for the century because till then I was trying to bat out the 50 overs,” Nasir said.

Younis Khan and Umar Akmal, on the opposing team, egging on the guy standing in their way of (an admittedly assured) victory. Great moment. Also, this is what it’s like to be 20 years old:

Nasir was in a lively mood while describing the moment he got to the century at the post-match press conference. “I thought I was on 98 when I had actually reached the century. [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai told me that I had reached the century. So I asked him, ‘How should I raise the bat?’ He told me to just raise it.”

Shakib Al Hasan Needs To Move To Another Country

Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s former captain, has a problem — let’s call it ‘Dan Vettori Syndrome.’ He is, without a doubt, the best player in his squad. And he clearly knows it; he has made it a habit of routinely stepping up to the crease with bat and ball when his fellow players do not. Take a look at the stats: in Tests, he averages in the low 30s with the ball and the bat (and he has seven five-wicket hauls); in ODIs, he scores 35 on average, and takes wickets at 28. (And he’s only 24!)

But like Dan Vettori, Hasan’s efforts usually don’t earn results. That’s because their teams are largely mediocre. So the issue is this: what do you do when you have a singular talent in the midst of mediocrity? Someone like Chris Gayle reacted to this problem by shrugging his shoulders and dispensing his talent only when he saw fit. (This attitude — which included giving the middle finger to his board of cricket — only makes sense now that lucrative T20 contracts are available.) Others, like Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, tried to hold up the entire team on their shoulders, either to stall the inevitable (Lara’s case), or to wait until better talent arrived (Tendulkar’s).

The problem for Hasan and Vettori is that they are all-rounders. Now this may be a completely unscientific prejudice on my part, but if you have a star player, wouldn’t you want him to be a star batsman (or bowler)? All-rounders are great; they inspire and rescue your team from trouble, but I don’t see them building squads or getting results. By the time Shakib comes to bat, for example, the most he can do is try to put on a respectable score; he can’t do the top order’s job of dominating the game. In other words, I’d rather have a 50-average batsman, or a strike bowler of Dale Steyn or Zaheer Khan quality, rather than a 30-and-30 all-rounder. [Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot in the comments.]

So what should Hasan or Vettori do? Vettori can’t wait until better talent to emerge, because New Zealand’s small pool may not deliver. Both can make more money through the IPL and elsewhere, but Hasan could imagine a scenario wherein Bangladesh become a threatening squad in another 10 years (and by that time, at 34, he’d be ideally placed to lead). Perhaps he could do what Tendulkar did — inspire the Rainas, Kohlis and Sharmas — and stick around long enough to see his team lift the World Cup trophy.

Institute Term Limits for (Bangladesh) Cricket Captains

Bangladesh have sacked their captain and vice-captain after some less-than-stellar results against Zimbabwe. The sacking has already raised some questions; Cricinfo reports some directors on the country’s board were not consulted.

Which leads to me ask: Why don’t we have term limits for cricket captains? In current political parlance, ‘term limits’ are often proposed as a way to prevent politicians from consolidating power. But the idea of having a set term of office actually has a long history, stretching back to the U.S. Constitution, which famously gives a 2-year term for House members; 6 years for Senators; and 4 for Presidents. In contrast to British (and Indian) Parliament, which can call general elections when they please — a practice the authors of the Federalist Papers labeled “dangerous” — the American system gives office-holders space to achieve what they can before turning to the public for approval (or rejection).

Obviously, cricketers face different challenges from politicians, and other considerations — form, physical shape, etc. — are involved. But I think boards would do best to pick a captain, set a term limit — 2 years, perhaps — and say, “This appointment will not be questioned until the term is up” and give him their best shot. Dissenters will realize they can’t do anything to topple the leader, and captains realize they have limited time to prove themselves.

The Best Cricket Board Website

I’m doing some web design work in my current job (don’t ask), and the task nudged me to do some Internet ‘research.’ Like, which cricket board has the best website? Surprisingly, the results weren’t bad on average (except the Pakistani one, which looks like it was developed in the 1990s).

But I give my award to the ECB, which seizes the future and a) offers to sell English cricket kits and gear and jersey online; b) includes interactive links to encourage fan participation (like, podcasts and other Internet thingies). But too many of these websites advertise the wrong things — the latest game fixtures and results, or news from the national team. I doubt many fans go to cricket board websites for this sort of stuff. And why not include information on where to learn cricket, and where to play the game, and where to hire a coach, and how to get tickets at venues if you don’t have a personal connection to a VIP? The good ol’ Kiwis have some of the answers.

Anyway, you decide: England, India, South Africa, Australia, West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand

One More Time For Bangladesh

Hope springs eternal for Cricket Minded:

Now that the World Cup is over (and I have no other excuse to stay up all night and be disfunctional at work), I look forward to the Aussies coming to Bangladesh. More so because for the first time, I have hope.

That would be hopes of a win. Yes, a win. Against the Aussies.

I had high expectations (relatively) for Bangladesh in the World Cup, and I was left sorely disappointed. For such a good team to be bowled out for under 100, twice — well, it doesn’t inspire confidence. That said, Purna makes a good enough case. I’m just looking forward to seeing Michael Clarke’s baby face ordering old men around.

How Ireland Was Excluded From 2015 World Cup

Via Masuud Qazi, Setanta Sports has this incredible report on how Ireland got kicked out:

Setanta Sports can reveal that that the 13-strong meeting split into three factions, with a group of major cricketing nations that included India, Australia and England proposing a ten-team World Cup which would mirror the successful 1992 World Cup, where the winner and three runners-up of a round-robin format would progress to the semi-finals.

This formula would guarantee that the financial powerhouse of the game, India, would be guaranteed nine games, with the consequent huge TV revenues that would inevitably flow back to the ICC.

[…] Another bloc of Full Members were keen on a 12-team tournament. These included Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, who were keen on guaranteeing their own participation even if their results over the next four years dropped. However, they were persuaded by the game’s powerhouses that a ten-team Full Member only World Cup would be in their best interests, leaving representatives of the Associate Nations completely isolated in the meeting.

Questions: 1) What did Zimbabwe and Bangladesh get in return for their silence? 2) Is there no financial incentive to grooming cricket talent outside of the current markets? That is, our are the big boards — Eng, Aus and Ind — simply assuming that there’s no point reaching out into, uh, Zimbabwe or Ireland or Afghanistan because it’s too long-term of a prospect to matter now?

Read the whole story. There are more juicy details in the narrative. (Caveat: sources are not revealed; I’ve never heard of Setanta Sports and don’t know how credible it is.)

So Long, Bangladesh

It was fun while it lasted. This team deserved to make it to at least the quarterfinal stage, rather than being dumped with the likes of Netherlands and Kenya. But they made a crucial mistake early on: they had no business to lose to West Indies (a team they have beaten comprehensively in the recent past), and not after failing to reach 100. (Actually, this team has no business getting out below 100 anymore. Stop doing that.)

No matter now, it’s all over. I feel most sorry for Shakib Al Hasan, the team’s captain and one of his country’s finest players ever. Unlike other captains, used to the ups and downs of victory and defeat, this guy has a harder time hiding his emotion. In a sense, he reminds me of Dan Vettori, another player who has tried to carry a team on his shoulders. The most poignant moment this tournament came when Hasan confessed he had given up hope of winning against England; in fact, he said, he didn’t believe they could win until the final run had been scored.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. The constant sense of fragility and worry. I don’t want to offer useless advice in the vein of Graeme Smith (who said Bangladesh needed to learn how to win — see definition of “begging the question”). I still say this team has the basics down: a handy troupe of spinners, a fine opener, and a couple of supporting batsmen. That’s more than they had five years ago. They also have a large population committed to supporting them (meaning, advertiser’s dollars, sponsors, and more young kids opting for cricket as a career).

Don’t sweat it, Bangladesh: there’s always 2015.

Dissecting The World Cup Squads, Part 2

From The Telegraph:

Versatility will therefore be the key ingredient. If you bowl first you will need loads of spinners to take advantage of the dry pitches that will prevail at the end of the season; if you bowl second you will need loads of seamers to take advantage of damp pitches, or at least medium-pacers who control a dewy ball, not fast and furious siege-engines like Shaun Tait who could spray it anywhere.

And it so happens that the three host nations have selected this appropriate mix of seamers and spinners, including batsmen who can bowl part-time spin – unlike Australia who have picked one spinner in their squad, Nathan Hauritz, who badly damaged his bowling shoulder in Friday’s win over England in Hobart.