Question marks on Bangladesh's Test future, reports indicate BCCI to have final say
Test cricket is on the brink of a new beginning. With the International Cricket Council announcing plans of dividing Test nations into two divisions by the next three years with there being provisions for promotions and relegations, some storied rivalries like the Frank Worrel Trophy (Australia vs West Indies) are being signaled to a close. With the current plan to have seven teams in the top division of Test cricket, some other Test status teams have reasons to fear for their future.
On the basis of the current ICC Test standings, Australia, India, Pakistan, England, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka would compete against one another (home or away) in series comprising a minimum of three Tests each throughout each two-year period. However, currently Test playing nations West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will be consigned to an inferior league, which will also comprise nations like Ireland, Afghanistan, Nepal and Netherlands.
While Zimbabwe’s cricket is in no condition to protest this imminent restructuring of Test cricket, West Indies offers as peculiar a picture as ever as to their stance on the matter. While star player Dwayne Bravo has gone on board to say that this would mean a death for cricket’s longest format in the Caribbean nations, the team management have not let known any objection.
With West Indies' success in T20s and woeful form in Tests in the recent past, the monetary gains for the country's cricket board are not expected to change much with the country's relegation to a second tier.
Could India come to Bangladesh’s aid?
The most vocal protester against this proposed system is Bangladesh, who despite having gained Test status in 2001, have only recently begun to find their footing in world cricket. They wallopped Zimbabwe in a Test series in late 2014, before giving decent fights to Pakistan, India and South Africa in 2015 Tests. While it has to be remembered that both countries toured Bangladesh during the monsoons, neither India or South Africa could return from the country with a win.
The proposal for dividing teams into two divisions will be put to a vote at the next ICC board meeting, and it looks like Bangladesh’s Test future is in the hands of BCCI and what their representative has to say on the matter in this meeting.
BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury has said, “Such proposals came into place even in the past. And now too is it on the discussion table only. So we had better leave the topic for the time being.”
However, another unnamed BCB official has divulged the information that the country’s cricket board are now relying on BCCI to save them from the relegation.
He has said that Bangladesh are not expecting much support from West Indies or Zimbabwe on vetoing this move, and so have had to move to ‘higher quarters’. It is the belief in the corridors of power that only the ‘world’s most powerful cricket board’ now have the power of vetoing the proposal and saving Bangladesh’s status of being able to compete against the best teams.
“Zimbabwe and the West Indies don’t seem to be much bothered about this. On the contrary, two associate nations are on their feet for the opportunity. So if there is a voting in ICC meeting, Bangladesh may not get enough support.”
A third possibility
There might be a third possibility, apart from the restructuring happening, and not happening at all – which is that the top division in Test cricket be extended to eight teams, with Bangladesh making it as the last entrant.
This structuring would be effective only from 2019 onwards, and so recent form will also have to considered then. If Bangladesh do manage to continue their fine form in Test cricket, it will be too unjust for them to be relegated. They have an upcoming one-off Test match to play in India this year, and matches in New Zealand in January 2017.
Question marks may also be pointed at Sri Lanka then, who are currently on a horrendous tour of England.