Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bang out of the Running

(Just resisted completely ripping off the headline "Bang Out of Order")

So here we are at the end of day 3 of the first test. In a way, Bangladesh have exceeded my expectation, as they haven't lost yet. Yet. However, they have all but lost, with England well over 400 runs ahead and looking to add to that. Even with a flurry of late wickets this morning (or evening, depending on where in the world you were), Bangladesh are hopelessly out of the test match, and are certainly one-nil down. As a side, you know you're not going to win when after two innings the normally perfectly impartial, unbiased and predicition-averse BBC Sport website are already talking about the game as though you have lost, saying that England will "ensure a comfortable win when a second declaration follows on Monday". Ultimately, that match report says it all; England will win, Bangladesh will lose. And you will get bored and watch the IPL.

With such a comfortable victory which has never been in doubt since Shakib stuck England in on Friday morning (and probably even before then) comes suggestions that Bangladesh should not be playing test cricket. However, I am against this idea, as every nation needs to start somewhere, and while Bangladesh are not winning many fixtures, they are becoming more and more competitive in them. For example, their first day performance against India recently, and the half-centuries for Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim prove that Bangladesh test cricket does offer some level of competition. Naysayers should also remember that current 'Test Number One' Side India struggled for around a quarter of a century, as did 'not Test Number One' side New Zealand. Test cricket is an unforgiving place, as proved by the knocks of Cook, Collingwood and Pietersen, so I would advocate a 'second-tier' of test cricket, where other emerging sides such as Ireland or Afghanistan could compete in first class cricket against similar standard sides. (This would also help promote local Irish talents as well as keeping them in the Emerald Isle - but that's another blog for another day). While ultimately I would prefer a two division test system with promotion / relegation over a two year period, I know this won't happen, but a "B Division" of test cricket would give teams a much better chance of suceeding and elevating standards.

However, at the moment, Bangladesh are not in a test "B Division" where they can compete. They are fighting a losing battle against an England side who aren't allowing them to.

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