Can Tigers hunt the Kangaroos?
Millions of cricket admirers of Bangladesh were sincerely expecting that the protracted dispute of Australian cricket over payments between Australian players and Cricket Australia would be resolved soon enabling the much expected series going ahead. To their sigh of relief ice melted and the series is going to be staged on schedule.
Australian touring squad of 13 which was announced earlier leaving one spot for filling in has had some last minute additions and alterations. It was earlier thought that one pacer would be added in place of injured speedster Mitchel Starc.
But instead selectors, though it would be wise picking Queensland leggie Mitchell Swepson considering the spin friendly Bangladesh wickets. In the meantime, Aussie quick James Pattinson has had his Test return delayed again after being ruled out of the tour. He has been replaced by Jackson Bird.
For some reasons or other Australia and Bangladesh has not met each other on bilateral series for long time. In the 11 years since Australia and Bangladesh last played a Test match, England have played the Tigers at home and away, India have toured there three times and hosted them once, and the players of South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka have been there often enough to drive their own Uber cars around Dhaka.
The entire cricket world, in other words, has built strong playing relations with Bangladesh. Except for Australia. The scheduled visit last year was called off at the last minute in the excuse of security though Bangladesh government assured of VVIP level security for Australian team. Australia was the only team that opted to stay away from Under 19 world cup held in Bangladesh.
In recent times Bangladesh cricket has improved a lot. Pakistan, India and South Africa lost ODI series to Bangladesh on tour. England was forced to draw Test series. Bangladesh drew Test, ODI and T20 series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. Bangladesh also qualified for the semi-final of ICC Champions trophy while Australia failed to advance from the same group.
Although Bangladesh is not yet a consistent team at test level yet it can very well stretch Australia to their limit on unaccustomed wickets of Bangladesh.
Moreover, Australian pacers may not find the wicket suited to their strength. Bangladesh not only possess a much balanced attack of quality pacers but they have some quality batsmen – a blend of experienced senior batsmen and courageous quality youngsters. Experts believe that it will not be a one way series.
Steve Smith (Capt), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson.
Australian team would leave for Bangladesh on 18th August for playing two Tests at Dhaka and Chittagong. Only one match they will get for acclimatizing with the condition. The recent heavy rain causing flash flooding may not allow the match going ahead at Fatullah Stadium where incidentally Ricky Ponting led Australian team last time was saved humiliating defeat only by the skin of the teeth in last series.
Given the weather condition it is very difficult predicting in this high monsoon how much cricket will be at all possible.
Australian squad would assemble at Darwin soon to have little bit of conditioning in almost similar climatic condition. Melbourne and Sydney is now rather cold for like to like preparation. Australia is a new look team with Captain Steve Smith and Vice-Captain David Warner being the only batsmen who have reputation of weathering any condition anywhere in the cricket world.
Usman Khawaja, Glen Maxwell and Mathew Wade would have to play out of their skins against quality Bangladesh spin attack of Shakib, Miraj and may be Taijul. We are not sure that youngster Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb would have “Vini, Vici, Vidi “in Bangladesh. Wonder boy Mustafiz and talented Taskin are also expected to bowl well now after fine tuning by legendary Courtney Walsh.
With Mitchell Starc and James Patterson not available Australia would rely mostly on Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins for pace attack. Jackson Bird is a line and length bowler of Hazlewood mode. We are unsure that Australia would play three pacers. They would rather like to have an additional spinner with Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar exploiting the expected spin friendly condition.
On that account picking leg spinner Mitchell Swepson appears a right choice. Glen Maxwell would also give a spinning option.
This series will do world of good for Bangladesh in their preparation for a much more difficult series against South Africa in South Africa. Inform Tamim Iqbal returned from his English Cricket commitment early for reasons other than cricket. Shakib Al Hasan now in West Indies with his franchise playing CPL would return.
The youngster Miraz appearing for the first time in CPL would also come back soon. The rest of the players are preparing for a while in Dhaka.
Australia will realize that Bangladesh is no longer a minnow in world cricket in any format. It can very well match the best of the best in any format. In limited over cricket it has already proved that it can beat any team anywhere on their day. In test cricket also it is fast improving.
Bangladesh has not yet announced the squad. But we may suggest a squad that we consider would be ok for the series.
Tamim Iqbal , Imrul Kayes , Mominul Huq , Mushfiqur Rahim ( Captain) , Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyad , Mosaddeq Hossain, Shabbir Rahman , Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed , Rubel Hossain, Liton K Das , Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur Rahman
We are Bangladeshi Australians. But can we remain neutral observers ? Perhaps not.