Are Bangladesh Test match chokers?
24th October 2016 was immaculately scripted to pave its way into the pages of Bangladesh cricket history. Every single player, the Bangladeshi fans, and the whole cricketing fraternity had their hearts in their mouths, anticipating an English heist by an effervescent Bangladesh team.
With 33 runs required and Sabbir Rehman seeing the cricket ball like a football, a Bangladesh victory was inevitably a matter of time. The only concern was the susceptibility of the tail-enders on a wearing fifth-day wicket against an ominous looking English attack.
Agonisingly enough, it didn’t quite pan out the way it looked like at the close of play on Day 4. Sabbir Rehman was left stranded with Bangladesh crashing to a defeat by 22 runs. Ben Stokes somewhat redeemed himself after the infamous final versus the West Indies earlier this year.
Chokers Tag - A Disgrace
The tag of what we refer to as ‘chokers’ has stuck with South Africa after their drubbing at the hand of the Aussies in the semi-final of the World Cup in 1999. For fans, the South African cricket team became synonymous to choking, at least in the limited overs format.
Bangladesh’s stutter at the finishing line might have evoked a buzz that the Bangladesh team is the emerging choker of international Test cricket. However, it will be a little too harsh and also a little too early to deem them to be unable to stand up to the pressure of toppling oppositions in Test cricket.
Out of the 7 Test victories, five have been against the lowly ranked Zimbabwe side, and two have been against a second string West Indies side when they toured the Caribbean in 2009. There’s a positive vibe in the victories even though they weren’t against the best.
|January 6, 2005||Chittagong||Zimbabwe||226 runs|
|July 9, 2009||Kingston||West Indies||95 runs|
|July 17, 2009||St George’s||West Indies||4 wickets|
|April 25, 2013||Harare||Zimbabwe||143 runs|
|October 25, 2014||Dhaka||Zimbabwe||3 wickets|
|November 3, 2014||Khulna||Zimbabwe||162 runs|
|November 12, 2014||Chittagong||Zimbabwe||186 runs|
Bangladesh has indeed won very few, but one thing that is evident is that whenever they get oppositions on the mat, they make sure that their rivals are dead and buried.
Yet to be tested
Nevertheless, there were times, albeit very few, when victory mercilessly eluded them. In 2003, Bangladesh was robbed of a triumph courtesy a century by Inzamam-ul-Haq. The latest one, to the knowledge of everyone, was inflicted by England.
The following are 6 of the closest defeats of Bangladesh in Test cricket.
Margin of runs
|2016||England||Chittagong||lost by 22 runs|
|2012||West Indies||Dhaka||lost by 77 runs|
|2008||Sri Lanka||Dhaka||lost by 107 runs|
|2003||Pakistan||Multan||lost by 1 wicket|
|2006||Australia||Fatullah||lost by 3 wickets|
|2008||New Zealand||Chittagong||lost by 3 wickets|
The above data shows that, apart from the wins Bangladesh have got, a handful of matches went down the wire and that’s where the ‘choking’ tag appears. Out of the 94 Tests, Bangladesh has tasted innings defeat in 36 games which converts to a staggering percentage of 38.29.
Requisite of more opportunities
Another reason why it would be harsh to put the chokers tag on Bangladesh is that they haven’t played enough Test matches across the globe to be called so. A team has to fail on a consistent basis to be referred to as chokers. Playing one solitary game in two years and falling short by a small margin doesn’t demonstrate that the team runs out of steam in pressure-cooker situations.
The following table will show the number of opportunities presented for Bangladesh as compared to other Test playing nations.
Bangladesh versus Average Number of Matches played by other nations
|January 00-December 01||9||21.44||-12.44||58.02|
|January 02-December 03||17||19.88||-2.88||14.48|
|January 04-December 05||14||20.55||-6.55||31.87|
|January 06-December 07||9||18.12||-9.12||50.33|
|January 08-December 09||12||20.50||-8.50||41.46|
|January 10-December 11||12||16.88||-4.88||28.91|
|January 12-December 13||8||17.77||-9.77||54.98|
|January 14-December 15||12||17.33||-5.33||30.75|
The above data shines a light on the fact that Bangladesh has not been provided with enough opportunities compared to others. January 2002 to December 2003 was the only period when they came close to being on the same page as that of its counterparts. There were four instances when Bangladesh didn’t even play half of the matches compared to the other teams and the yawning gap in the list indicates it.
It’s just the beginning
Bangladesh has been a revelation in the ODI format in the last couple of years, and it can only get better from here. It won’t be a surprise if Bangladesh to take forward their ODI form into Test cricket.
The Bangla Tigers can take heart from the fact that the current holder of the number 1 slot in Test cricket (India) had won only 10 out of its first 94 Test matches, just three more than Bangladesh. Labeling a team ‘chokers’ is looking down on a bunch of spunky talents.
Every team chokes some day, or the other and experience will give them the confidence to pull off victories.
Bangladesh fell short of a historic win, but them giving the English a run for their money was worth a standing ovation. It was a defeat, but hopefully, it’s the start of a fairytale journey of Bangladesh cricket that’s destined to change the face of the game in the cricket-mad country.