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Can Bangladesh push West Indies in two-Test series?

Earl Best comments on what the fans can expect in the two weeks ahead:

To the extent that performances in the three ODIs are a reliable guide to what to expect in the two-Test series which starts tomorrow, Mushfiqur Rahim’s touring Bangladeshis are deep in trouble. Obviously, statistics do not tell the whole story, particularly when they come from a different format.

Minds which are already made up have no room for such – or any – empirical data. But the part of the story the stats do tell makes pretty depressing listening/reading for those still hoping against hope that the battle between Denesh Ramdin’s in-form team and the demoralized tourists will be a competitive encounter.

Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin.
Photo: West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin.

Of the 23 batsmen who played in the ODIs, none of the top three and only two of the top five are from the subcontinent as are all of the last four. Among the 15 bowlers used, the bottom five are Bangladeshis as are only two of the top seven. These two, interestingly, have claimed full 15 of the 21 scalps that the visitors earned themselves in the three matches. By contrast, the 24 wickets West Indian wickets were shared by seven of their bowlers, the top two accounting for exactly half.

Conclusion? Need we really repeat it? Barring a recurrence of the weather that ruined the only T20I and/or a telling intervention by the glorious uncertainties that characterize this sport, Ramdin’s men are going to be hard-pressed to break a real sweat in sending the whitewashed tourists home empty-handed.

But not for the first time, circumstances are conspiring to ease the pressure on the visitors, who left our shores with a 3-2 ODI series victory under their belt the last time they visited in 2012 and with 2-0 Test and 4-1 ODI wins over Floyd Reifer’s pick-up side in 2009.

So, like the PP Government, I wish to see changes made to make sure my side wins. However, unlike the PP, I believe it is useful to listen to what the people have to say.

Here then is the comment of one fan, aclarity, who was reacting to the WICB’s announcement of the Test squad last week:

Based on the team, this selection committee is no different from the last. In fact, it vindicates Butts. Lloyd & co. seem to be looking backwards instead of making decisive progressive steps. The record of Gayle in the past year and his immobility should eliminate him from any WI team. Chanders is over 40 and he is still there. Edwards, DJ Bravo and Shillingford should demonstrate form before further selection. Lewis, Bonner, Johnson, Samuels and Beaton deserve consideration now.

Photo: The West Indies cricket team. (Courtesy WICB)
Photo: The West Indies cricket team.
(Courtesy WICB)

We are at the bottom, playing a bottom team but we keep out the deserving youths. Yes, we will immerse them against India and SA. Most likely after the WC when these underserving players fail miserably and say “No mas!”

Is this a strategy going forward?

Fan number two, Wirus, agrees. 

How very disappointing that the new selectors should take up exactly where the old one left off as it is the same squad that lost unnecessarily to NZ. It is beyond belief! Gayle – who is now so hopelessly vulnerable that bowlers actually fancy getting him out in Test and ODI formats (…) is chosen again. Edwards, who looked so utterly lost against BD in the 2 ODIs before he was DROPPED, is chosen. Shillingford, who was so toothless and unthreatening in his last match against NZ (having been DROPPED for the previous match) that one felt embarrassed for him, is chosen.

Poor selection cost WI that series against NZ. Now they do it all over again. This is either gross disrespect for BD or simply a dereliction of duty by Lloyd and Co. I mean, what are they thinking? 

Hmmmmm…

Wirus is not done. He adds this:

In as much as I’m glad that Gibson has moved on and that we have some new selectors etc. I doubt that any of that affects the fundamental problems with the players named, i.e. it wasn’t Gibson or the old selectors who were causing Gayle to poke at balls outside his off-stump and get caught or swipe at other deliveries and get out. Nor were they responsible for Edwards’ lack of judgement in playing across the line, etc., nor for Shillingford being (understandably) lost without being able to use his full array of deliveries due to his action being under surveillance.

In other words these players are either out of form or have technical/mental problems which make them vulnerable or are just no longer up to international standard. None of this is necessarily the players’ fault but can WI afford to carry them anymore? I am not asking for “wholesale changes” but rather (…) step by step change.

And surely having in-form players is a step in the right direction.

Double hmmmmm…

You may not agree 100% but it does provide enough food to start the analytico-digestive juices flowing.

Wirus chooses not to comment on the Board’s statement that there will be no sanction against the two players who have opted to go with their Champions League sides instead of the WI.

A third fan, however, Vigneshmurali, needed a little help with his punctuation but none at all where the strength of his sentiments is concerned. 

Players should not be made to feel guilty over choosing franchise over team and primarily they should not be put in a position where they have to make that choice. Keep 3 months in every calendar year for domestic T20 competitions where the IPL, CPL, BPL and Big Bash all happen simultaneously. Then the player will only have to choose which franchise he wants to represent rather than (having to choose) between franchise and country, which is one choice players should not be made to make.

I mean, the money is better in franchise cricket. And let’s be honest: these days cricket is not only about the pride of playing for your country. It’s a profession like any other and players want monetary security out of their jobs. Same way no one feels bad if a doctor choses a multi-specialty international chain of hospitals rather than helping Africans in (the) Ebola crisis, cricketers should not be presented in a negative light. 

“Fair enough,” responds Cpt. Meanster, who goes on to explain. 

By opting to play in the CLT20, these players will be playing in front of packed houses and noisy crowds in India. Guess what? Playing in India = instant fame and recognition. 

The world needs to come to reality about Test cricket. It’s a dying format. With the exception of some sections of the English public and Australia, a vast majority of people don’t follow Tests that much. This is a good decision by these players. 

On the other hand, Bangladesh should seize this chance and try to win their first ever overseas Test series.

The hope is that they will indeed think that they can. And that the fans will agree and, voting with their wallets and purses, come out and support Ramdin and his men in St Vincent and St Lucia between the 5 and the 17th.

But the fear must be that the expected no-contest may well drive many to simply settle for the social media’s progress reports.

Alternatively, as Capt. Meanster implies, those with the stomach for a massacre will probably scan the TV guide for a Bruce Willis movie.

Or the latest news from the Middle East.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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