BCB's proposal to cut a Test against Zimbabwe is unacceptable
Zimbabwe will tour Bangladesh on January 2016 when the visitors are supposed to play a three-match Test series, five-match ODI series and three Twenty20 internationals. But the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is in discussion with Zimbabwe Cricket to omit one Test from the bilateral series.
Bangladesh ended the year 2014 on a high by completely outclassing one of their favorite oppositions Zimbabwe in Tests and ODIs, also the series which aided the Tigers to get back on the winning track. Bangladesh had a nightmarish journey in the major part of 2014 and it was that series against Zimbabwe which restored Bangladesh’s lost confidence, and still that resultant self-belief has not ebbed away, it is getting stronger day by day.
BCB cricket operations committee’s chairman Naimur Rahman told reporters on August 24, 2015 that the proposal to scrap the Test was made by keeping in mind the preparations for the Asia Cup T20 and World T20 following the series against Zimbabwe.
“We are still in talks with Zimbabwe. We have proposed to reduce one Test. They said they will let us know after discussing among themselves. We have to consider the cricketers' rest and recovery, at the same time we are committed to playing ODIs and T20s after the Tests. So we have to prepare accordingly. That's why we are reducing the number of Tests so that we can prepare for T20s."
Naimur Rahman said that the BCB is still waiting for the decision of Zimbabwe Cricket regarding the decision.
The importance of Test cricket to Bangladesh
Faring well in Test cricket is the ultimate accolade. The Sri Lankans became one of the top teams of the world only when they started to fare well in Test matches; despite their overwhelming success in limited-overs cricket during the mid 90s, critics rated them as just mere entertainers.
The fantastic victory against England at the Oval in 1998 made everyone believe that the Lankans are one of the top teams in the cricketing globe. Even after lifting the World Cup in 1996, the Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga strongly stated that his main priority is to make Sri Lanka a better Test team. Sri Lanka never gave Test cricket less importance and such a school of thought paid them rich dividends.
So far, Bangladesh’s love for Test cricket has always been scanty. They were mad about gaining the Test status 15 years back, but when the matter of exhibiting a passion for Test cricket came, the fans, media, local commentators, cricket pundits and hierarchy have always been short-sighted and more often devalued the traditional format of the game.
They always loved improving in that sector which has already been more comfortable for them – Bangladesh's success in limited-overs cricket and poor results in Test cricket says it all.
Rain stealing Bangladesh’s chances to realise their Test worth
Such a proposal from BCB has been quite unexpected. It is quite saddening to see that the hierarchy of Bangladesh cricket still has not realized the importance of playing Test cricket. To stamp an authority on world cricket, Bangladesh need to fare well in five-day matches. Striking gold only in the limited-over versions, especially in Twenty20 cricket, can never be the ultimate goal for the Tigers.
They will trigger short-term euphorias, but they will melt like an ice sculpture in the Sahara desert if the performance in Test cricket is not sound.
Bangladesh were deprived of playing Test matches against teams like India and South Africa due to the intervention of inclement weather and it had deprived them from realizing their true worth in five-day matches. Surely, playing full matches against India and South Africa would have been extremely beneficial for Bangladesh.
Even if the memories of the first Test against Pakistan at Khulna are sweet, but those memories turned into a nightmare in Mirpur where Bangladesh’s meek surrender indicated how badly the Tigers need to play Test matches more and more.
The problems and the possible solution
Naimur Rahman did insist that Test cricket remains the most important for Bangladesh as he said, “Because Tests are important, we are using tournaments like BCL and NCL to prepare players for the longer version.”
Yes, longer version matches in domestic cricket do help in preparing for playing Test cricket, but how can one know how good they are if they don’t play enough Test matches? Then Naimur cited the fitness of some of Bangladesh’s front line pacers and the impact of the busy schedule which might hamper the fitness of the cricketers.
Well, if fitness and a hectic schedule are the issues, then why not surface young bloods; and against Zimbabwe it would be a great opportunity to try and test the promising players. There are quite a few good performers in the domestic circuit who are qualified enough to claim a place in the Test team.
Bangladesh still don’t have many friends in world cricket and their opportunities are quite less in quantity than the likes of England, South Africa or Australia. They play lesser amount of Tests than the big guns and for which, whatever opportunities come, they must take them emphatically.