Year 2018 has set in. Bangladesh cricket will enter into a new phase under a new coach and new Test captain in 2018 with dreams of redeeming and salvaging pride. After all, year 2017 for Bangladesh in international cricket did not end well with comprehensive white wash in all formats in South Africa.
The controversial head coach, Sri Lankan borne Australian Chandika Hathurusingha resigned with his missions unfulfilled. He is now set his new assignment as head coach of his own country Sri Lanka against Bangladesh in Bangladesh.
There had been so much talks in the media in post-mortem of team Tigers’ abysmal performance in South Africa. These were not expected after Bangladesh performing well against Sri Lanka on tour and against strong Australia at home.
But Bangladesh did exceptionally well in the champions trophy in England. Against all odds, she reached semi final of the competition.
In Sri Lanka tour, Bangladesh won the centenary Test, drew series in all three formats. But there the charismatic captain Mashrafe surprisingly announced retirement from T20 international. Let us try reflecting upon year 2017 of team tigers.
Bangladesh In New Zealand:
There were greater expectations from tigers establishing credentials in bouncy, seaming wickets in alien conditions in New Zealand after its strong showing in home condition. Off course teams from South Asia always struggle in tour to Australia New Zealand.
There were some logic as well. In 2015 World Cup, Bangladesh was the only team that could stretch New Zealand in New Zealand. The team also possessed a strong pace bowling attack who could have exploited the condition.
But in general team tigers failed to live up to the billing. Bangladesh lost all matches of T20I, ODI and Test series .The only highlight was brilliant batting of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim in a Test match.
Shakib scored a punishing double century and Mushfiqur made a century as well. Their partnership was a record for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh In Champions Trophy:
Being placed in a very strong group with Australia, New Zealand and host England there were not much expected from team tigers. Moreover, early summer in England, teams from South Asia traditionally struggle.
Bangladesh went to the United Kingdom much earlier and appeared in a Tri nation ODI tournament in Ireland featuring also New Zealand apart from the host.
It provided the players with opportunities to acclimatize although conditions in Ireland were not exactly similar to that of England and Wales. Bangladesh came second in the tournament comprised of three nations.
The Champions trophy saw a major surprise as Bangladesh qualified for semifinals ahead of Australia and New Zealand. Bangladesh lost the first match against England. The second match was rained out.
Bangladesh won against New Zealand through record breaking brilliant batting of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad, both scoring scintillating centuries. But Bangladesh eventually lost the semi final against India.
Test Against India Was a Disappointment:
At last India hosted a Test series against Bangladesh that was a one off series in Hyderabad. Lot was expected from it. But Bangladesh disappointed everyone losing by a huge margin. Poor batting, bowling and fielding gave a wrong message to Indian crowd about growing stature of Bangladesh in Test cricket.
Sri Lanka Tour Was A Big Success:
Though it created few controversies but over all the tour was a great success. The growing tensions in Bangladesh camp came to surface.
For the first time cricket world knew that head coach had some issues with senior player’s; Shakib, Tamim, Mashrafe, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah had some say about the autocratic manner in which team was being managed. They had meeting with Board chief in Sri Lanka.
Still Bangladesh won a match each in Test, ODI and T20I series and drew all three series. However, Mashrafe opted resignation from T20 international seemingly from disagreement with team management. He did not like the way team management was devaluating the performance of senior players.
High Point Of 2017 Was Win Against Australia:
Prior to the series Australian Cricketers were in head to head collision with Cricket Australia. This was a bit frustrating for Bangladesh Cricket admirers as after beating England in Bangladesh they were expecting Australia for a long time.
In 2015, a scheduled Australian visit was suspended at the last minute. But in 2017, ice melted and Australia went to Bangladesh.
From the fall out of Sri Lanka tour, Mahmudullah and Mominul were not included against Australia in two matches Test series. Both were among the main performers and there were apparently no reasons for dropping them.
Following strong media and cricket admirers criticism back in the country, Mominul was included. On hot humid summer days, on a slow turning wicket, Bangladesh managed to beat strong Australia in the first Test in Dhaka.
Tamim and Shakib batted brilliantly and Shakib bowled exceptionally well. The possibility of historic series win against strong Australia was created. But inconsistent Bangladesh played very poorly in Chittagong letting Australia squaring the series.
One could feel the uneasy situation in the dressing room in every session Bangladesh appeared however. The team was being dictated through remote control.
South Africa Tour Was a Disaster:
It is known to all that all teams struggle in South Africa. The wickets and conditions favor fast bowling and teams need different skills and technique to survive there. It has been no different to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
Only Australia and England won series there. Still Bangladesh made little preparation. One of its top players Shakib Al Hasan opted out from Test series surprisingly and he was granted a leave of absence.
Bangladesh plays not too many Tests and not too many international matches which can cause players taking rest. Even the tour schedule was poor. Two tests were scheduled before ODI and T20I series, minus Shakib Bangladesh was weaker.
Bangladesh won the toss in both the test matches and surprisingly opted to field against strong South African batting with weak bowling attack. Mushfiqur was heavily dictated in setting fielding, bowling changes and batting order. Consequently Bangladesh lost both the Tests by huge margins.
The fate of the team did not change in ODI and T20I although Shakib and Mashrafe joined. The morale of the team dipped down all time low.
Shockingly head coach Hathurusingha returned to his Australian abode and sent resignation letter instead of returning with the team and submitting report. It was a very unprofessional gesture from a professional coach who enjoyed extraordinary authority unheard of in modern day cricket.
It is true that during his tenure as head coach, Bangladesh cricket attained new heights but these mostly came from strong performance of senior players like Mashrafe, Mushfiqur, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah.
Hathurusingha had issues with all of them. He led the careers of few senior players and many emerging players to the brink. He created mistrust among the team. The way he exited from the team is the work of a “FUGITIVE.”
Year 2018 will start with a Tri nation series featuring Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh is firm favorite. That will be followed with full series against Sri Lanka. Hathurusingha will be the head coach of Sri Lanka. It will be an acid test for both him and Team Tigers.
(The writing belongs to the writer exclusively. The editor is not responsible for any opinion expressed) 1 of 1