Bangladesh's 58 All Out: Time for Drastic Changes to Fix the Tigers' Cricket

Antoinette Muller@mspr1ntFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

Associated Press

Another day, another defeat for Bangladesh.

This time, it was a defeat that was shrouded in embarrassment as Bangladesh failed to chase 106 against a second-string Indian team.

Before the start of the series, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said he felt “let down” by India sending a weakened team, according to Pradeep Kalamegam of SportsKeeda. Today, it looks like India could have sent a domestic team to do the job.

They are on a nine-match losing streak in one-day cricket following a thumping at the hands of India which saw them bowled out for 58.

Bangladesh 58 all out chasing 106 to beat India. Quite an effort.

— Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) June 17, 2014

Overall, they have managed just 80 wins in the 285 matches they have played, losing 202.

The current state of affairs in Bangladesh cricket is desperate. Players know where they are making their mistakes. Time and time again at post-match interviews, players will admit that they failed to convert starts or they bowled poorly or whatever other basics might have led to ineptitude.

But nothing ever changes or gets better. It must be so frustrating to be a Bangladesh fan.

But how do you rectify the problem? Coaching can only go so far—although, there is much ill-discipline that needs to be coached out of Bangladesh’s players. So, what else?

A good start would be for some of Bangladesh’s stars to go and spend a season playing county cricket. While the English domestic system isn’t the strongest in the world, it is the perfect breeding ground for refining a craft and playing a lot of cricket.

That is the most important thing for its core players: playing loads of cricket. The truth is that Bangladesh simply does not play enough internationally compared to other teams and that’s not going to change any time soon—they aren't an attraction to most other teams.

With cricket’s new world order of England, Australia and India taking more control of the game, the amount of cricket Bangladesh plays will depend largely on the board’s ability to build relationships with other boards.

If there is nothing in it for other boards, there may be no reason to play Bangladesh, especially if their horror form continues. That, perhaps is one of the biggest challenges facing the country's cricket.

Domestic structures will have to ease and carry much of the burden of the initial development, but once at the top, you only get smarter by playing the smarter opponent.

The only possible solution is for the players to try and better themselves overseas. Shakib Al Hasan is the only player who has competed regularly in other leagues, but that is primarily Twenty20 cricket.

Shakib Al Hasan at Worcestershire, 2013
Shakib Al Hasan at Worcestershire, 2013Getty

The value of experience in other leagues cannot be underestimated, but skills are best refined and adapted in the longest format of the game. If the administrators cannot bring cricket to its players, then its players must go find the cricket themselves.

It’s all easier said than done, of course.

Domestic leagues cater largely for development of their own players, but that is why the English county scene is such a good option. It is massive, with 18 teams competing and players coming and going through the international revolving door all the time.  

In a utopian world, some sort of exchange programme would actually be ideal. Bangladesh sends its best players to learn how to become better cricketers, while England sends, for example, their would-be spinners to Bangladesh to learn how to actually turn a ball.

That is a idealistic world solution, though, and the night probably has not been dark enough for a dawn yet for Bangladesh. Unless something changes soon, things are only going to start getting worse.

Back in January, Mohammad Isam, ESPNCricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent, wrote about the changes needed to help Bangladesh move forward. Following an innings and 248-run defeat against Sri Lanka, things were looking pretty grim.

There were many issues for Bangladesh then with the talk of a two-tier Test system dominating the headlines and having a series impact on the players. Rahim had spoken out about his concerns, but the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) did not care for his views. 

Back then already, Isam had suggested, "The BCB needs to be proactive and appease its players rather than shooting them down for being vocal on issues.” 

He also said that “a general sense of practicality is necessary and expected”.

None of that has materialised and what many thought was the once-a-year blip of a massive defeat has now escalated into full-scale dysfunction.

It’s crisis time and it’s not like nobody saw it coming.