The good, bad and ugly of Bangladesh cricket

Bangladesh batsman Sakib al Hasan celebrates his hundred against West Indies during their ICC World Cup match at The County Ground in Taunton on June 17, 2019 — Reuters photo

The year 2019 was one of the most disappointing years for Bangladesh cricket.

From their one-day international and Test series defeats against New Zealand in early 2019 to their humiliating 0-2 defeat in Tests at the hands of India later in the year, the Tigers found themselves mostly at the receiving end with their below-par on-field performances throughout the year. Bangladesh cricket was plagued by many off-field controversies in the latter half of the year, with ace all-rounder Sakib al Hasan receiving a two-year ban (one year suspended ban) from ICC, national team players along with first-class players going on an unprecedented players strike and Bangladesh Cricket Board director Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan getting arrested for running an illegal casino in Mohammedan Sporting Club.

A lot was expected from the national team in the ICC World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, but they failed to deliver, winning only three matches to finish eighth in the 10-team tournament. The Tigers also ended the year without winning or drawing a single Test match for the first time since 2010.

The tri-series win in Ireland against the hosts and West Indies, winning gold medals in men’s and women’s cricket in the South Asian Games in Nepal and Sakib’s incredible run in the World Cup were the rare moments of glories in an otherwise underwhelming year for Bangladesh cricket.

Here are the summaries of the good, bad and ugly of Bangladesh Cricket in 2019.

 

The Good

After getting thrashed by the Kiwis in New Zealand in in February-March, Bangladesh bounced back strongly by winning their maiden multi-team tournament, when they won the Ireland tri-series against West Indies and the hosts in May. Bangladesh progressed to the final by remaining undefeated in the league-phase and beat West Indies by five-wicket to end their trophy drought. Despite Bangladesh’s poor outcome, Sakib stole the show in the world cup by scoring 606 runs in eight innings at an average of 86.57 to finish third in the run-getters list while claiming 11 wickets at the same time. Bangladesh then shared a Twenty20 tri-series trophy with Afghanistan at home in September, with the other team being Zimbabwe, after the final got rained off in Dhaka. The Tigers tasted their first victory in Indian soil against the hosts when they secured a seven-wicket win in the first Twenty20 of the three-match series in Delhi which also ended their eight-match losing streak against India in Twenty20s. In December, Bangladesh men’s Under-23 team secured gold medal in 13th SA Games after beating their Sri Lankan counterparts by seven wickets in the final while their women’s compatriot beat the same opposition by two-run in the final to add another gold medal to Bangladesh’s tally. Bangladesh women’s team also progressed to ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup after becoming champions in the qualifiers in Scotland. The Under-19 team impressed with their 4-1 series win against Kiwis in New Zealand and progressed to the finals of a tri-series in England and Asia Cup at home respectively.

 

The Bad

The performances of Bangladesh in Test cricket came under scrutiny after they lost all five of their Test matches in 2019. Bangladesh lost both their Test matches against New Zealand by an innings margin before they were outplayed by newcomers Afghanistan in a one-off Test match at home in September, losing the match by 224-run. They were later thrashed by India in the two-Test series, losing both matches by an innings margin and inside three days, with the second Test being a day-night Test. Bangladesh failed to make their maiden appearance in pink-ball Tests memorable as they lost the match by innings and 46 runs to end the year on a gloomy note. After announcing themselves in the World Cup by beating South Africa in their opening match, Bangladesh only managed two more wins against West Indies and Afghanistan in the tournament and couldn’t progress to the knock-out stage. Following the poor show, Bangladesh sacked head coach Steve Rhodes citing a mutual separation. Bangladesh were then clean-swept in a three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka against the hosts right after the World Cup. Bangladesh finished the year with only seven wins in 18 ODIs and four wins in seven Twenty20s. This year five different players – Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Sakib, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mominul Haque, captained the side under different circumstances, which showcased instability in national team’s leadership. Former national cricketer Shahadat Hossain assaulted a team-mate during a National Cricket League match and received a five-year ban from BCB. Allegations of match-fixing in country’s lower-tier cricket continued plaguing the game throughout the year.

 

The Ugly

The ugliest thing Bangladesh cricket team endured in 2019 was undoubtedly Sakib’s ICC ban saga. ICC banned Sakib for not reporting multiple corrupt approaches from an Indian bookie. Sakib was approached twice during a tri-series in 2018 and once during his Indian Premier League stint for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the same year but didn’t inform the ICC. The ban will remain in effect till October 29, 2020 which practically rules him out of next year’s ICC World Twenty20, which will begin from October 8 in Australia. A few days before the ban in October, Sakib led Bangladeshi cricketers in an unprecedented boycott from all kinds of cricketing activities until their 13 demands were met with. The 72-hour deadlock ended with the BCB accepting all of the demands. The BCB was left with image crisis with Lokman’s arrest following a casino-drive and they were criticized heavily for not sacking him from the post.

Source: New Age.

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