Bangladesh have become a force to reckon with over the past few years. They have come quite a long way after they were granted Test status on 26 June 2000. Today marks the 20th anniversary of that remarkable event. On this occasion, let's dive into the history of how Bangladesh became a Test-playing nation.
The earliest cricket match on record in Dhaka (then Dacca) was held in February 1941 when a Bengal Governor's XI took on the Bengal Gymkhana side. The match was played at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, then called the Dacca Stadium. Matches of domestic cricket tournaments of Pakistan were played in Dhaka after the partition of Bengal in 1947. As many as seven international Test matches were played at the Dacca Stadium with Pakistan as the hosts between 1955 to 1968. The first-ever Test match in Dhaka was between host Pakistan and the Republic of India in January 1955. At that time, Dacca Stadium had a maximum capacity of 15,000 spectators.
After the Liberation War, the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board (BCCB) was established in 1972. A cricket league commenced in Dhaka and Chattogram (then Chittagong) shortly after that. The start was a bit slow as the other fundamental needs were being prioritized in the war-torn country.
The first step in domestic cricket
A national-level cricket tournament began in the country in 1974. First and second division cricket leagues were introduced at the district level. Other tournaments including National Youth Cricket, Inter-university Cricket, Damal Summer Cricket, Star Summer Cricket were regularly arranged.
MCC's tour to Bangladesh
After the completion of the 1975-76 domestic season, BCCB's acting secretary Reza-E-Karim wrote to ICC (then called the International Cricket Conference) requesting membership status for Bangladesh. ICC decided to take a call on Bangladesh's membership status after Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) had toured Bangladesh in 1976. The match between MCC and Bangladesh drew 40,000 spectators.
ICC Associate membership and further progress:
Bangladesh became an Associate member of ICC on 26 July 1977. BCCB sought coaching help from the MCC and they responded by sending Robert Jones to Bangladesh. In January 1978, Sri Lanka toured Bangladesh. In December 1978, MCC toured Bangladesh for the second time that lasted until January 1979.
Failed ICC Trophy missions
Bangladesh appeared in the ICC Trophy for the first time in 1979, winning a couple of games against Fiji and Malaysia. Bangladesh participated in each of the 1979, 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994 editions of the ICC trophy. Bangladesh finished fourth and fifth in the 1982 and 1986 editions respectively. They couldn't progress to the finals in the next two editions too despite having good chances.
ICC Champions in 1997
Bangladesh prepared well under coach Gordon Greenidge ahead of the 1997 ICC Trophy. Aminul Huq Moni, the then General Secretary of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), took the initiative to install Astro Turf at Abahani Cricket Ground and Bangabandhu National Stadium so that the players had two full seasons to prepare on the very type of pitch they'd be playing in the ICC Trophy 1997. Bangladesh also became a regular ICC member with the right to play ODIs and started hosting bilateral and triangular tournaments. Bangladesh went on to become the champions of the 1997 ICC Trophy beating Kenya in the final, thus securing a spot in the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup. The successful campaign was instrumental in creating a passionate fan base back home and it helped the cause of acquiring the Test status.
1999 ICC Cricket World Cup and gaining the Test status
Bangladesh played their first-ever World Cup in 1999 in England and recorded their first win against Scotland. Later, Bangladesh caused an enormous upset by beating Pakistan by 62 runs at Northampton. This incredible result and the huge fan following back home prompted ICC to grant Bangladesh Test status. The ardent support of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the then president of BCCI, also helped the cause big time. Bangladesh gained Test status on 26 June, 2000. They played their inaugural Test match on 10 November 2000, hosting India in Dhaka.
The most awaited moment
Bangladesh were led by Naimur Rahman. Sourav Ganguly's India defeated them by nine wickets, although Bangladesh surpassed all expectations by matching their neighbours at times in the match. Aminul Islam Bulbul scored a dogged 145 off 380 balls in the first innings, spending close to nine hours in the middle, thus becoming the third person ever to score a hundred on his team's debut Test match.
Bangladesh could, by no means, live up to expectations in the longest form of the game. But they have shown glimpses of brilliance of late and some wins under their belt can really inspire them to make a mark in Test cricket as well.