Many cricket followers who are grimacing at the thought of the huge mismatch between Australia and Bangladesh about to get under way in Darwin on Friday morning.
Their promotion to full Test status by the ICC in 2000 looks as dubious as ever, as the visitors have lost eighteen and drawn one out of their first nineteen Test starts, with thirteen of those losses by an innings and plenty. Since arriving in Australia to prepare for the Test and one-day series, they have had two narrow wins and a loss against opposition roughly equivalent to interstate second eleven level.
The problems with Bangladesh cricket are much deeper than the form on the field. The administrative standards of the Bangladesh Cricket Board make Soccer Australia look like World's Best Practice.
A quick read through the sports pages of the website of "The Independent" newspaper, published in Dhaka, over the past month, reveals the following:
- The board is yet to appoint a CEO, CFO, marketing or media managers - these positions will be created "within the next three months".
- The national selectors resigned en masse after the team had arrived in Australia. (A new panel has yet to be appointed.)
- A sponsor for the national team was not announced until Tuesday this week.
- Ongoing squabbles with soccer authorities for use of the national stadium has forced the cricket board onto an athletics ground, handed to them by the government, for which they will have to pay renovation costs.
- The Bangladesh Minister for Youth and Sports announced late last month that the Bangladesh Cricket Board had recently "returned to solvency".
A report in today's "Independent" says that the board has in its possession a list of fifteen bowlers, including five of the best in the national league, regarded by umpires as being chuckers. The bowlers aren't named, and there's no indication whether any of them are in Australia at the moment. The report, according to the newspaper, is with the board's Cricket Committee, which is yet to take any action.
On a positive note, they recently appointed former Victorian batsman and Sri Lankan World Cup-winning coach Dav Whatmore as coach of the national team. However, he's only the latest of a long series of foreign-born coaches through the revolving door including West Indian batting legend Gordon Greenidge and youngest Chappell brother Trevor.
A tough time ahead for the Bangladesh team. We wish them good luck against the Aussies - and good luck to the ABC who are televising the third day's play on Sunday in the expectation that the match will last that long.
(Footnote: There is excellent coverage of the Bangladesh cricket tour of Australia from the tourists' perspective on the sports pages of The Independent - www.independent-bangladesh.com - even if they reported the other day that the Murray River runs through the Kakadu!)