The clock has tiptoed its way past 20 years since Bangladesh received their Test status on June 26, 2020. In the last couple of decades, Bangladesh have reached high points like beating Australia and England and also low points like succumbing to a defeat at home to Afghanistan, who received their Test status 17 years after Bangladesh.
So, after playing the elite format of the game for two decades, where does Bangladesh stand? Why was Bangladesh rather unsuccessful? On the 20th anniversary of receiving the Test status, five Bangladesh Test skippers talked to The Business Standard (TBS), trying to answer those questions.
The journey had many ebbs and flows. There was a time when there were questions whether it was the right decision to grant us the Test status. But we proved our doubters wrong by scoring 400 in our debut Test. There were glimpses of brilliance, but we could not really perform as a team. We never had a settled unit. I have to say we did not have a definite goal. That's why we are losing against even Afghanistan. We could not do justice to our potential. We field almost a similar eleven across all formats. This is not going to help. Another point I want to make, we don't have a good domestic structure. Everything is based on Mirpur. We couldn't decentralise our cricket. We could not put emphasis on the aspects we desperately needed to.
There is no question about our progress. But we should have done better. There were quite a few individual performances that caught the eye of the world. But unfortunately, the rankings suggest that we still have a long way to go. Our cricket basically revolves around ODIs. We need to do what it takes to make players more interested in the longer version. Everyone wants the wickets to be flat. That's not the way to go. Recently sporting wickets have been installed in domestic cricket so that cricketers can be acclimatised to Test cricket. Cricketers of the national team should also play in domestic first-class competitions. Many of them remain busy with commercial endorsements and all. They need to be a little bit more sincere as well.
We started from zero. We were expected to struggle at the start. A new team always takes time to settle down. We have been playing well over the last few years. But unfortunately, we could not live up to the expectations. Yes, we won against big teams but we lost against smaller teams too. We are not a bad team in this format, but we are inconsistent. The graph is fluctuating, but you cannot expect us to be like Australia and India in the space of just 20 years. Our team always has a packed schedule, so the players don't really get enough time to play first-class cricket. But if you want to take your skills to another level, there is no alternative to playing first-class cricket.
We could not improve in this format as much as we would have liked. You can say, 20 years is not enough time. But times have changed. To be honest, we don't concentrate on this format as much as we should. But I won't blame the players. We don't have a proper first-class structure. We have to depend on the results of tosses, even on home soil. We play in rank turners in international cricket and flat wickets in domestic cricket. We are never prepared to play on true wickets. There is a financial issue as well. Nowadays, everyone wants to play T20 cricket as there is more money in a shorter time. We need to ensure financial security to first-class cricketers to ensure that they do not lose interest in the longer version.
We have grown as a force to reckon with in ODIs. To be honest, we are nowhere near that level in Tests. The rankings say it all. We've even lost to Afghanistan. Lack of proper infrastructure is the prime reason. We don't often play Tests. Once we did not play Tests for 14 months because the World Cup was approaching. We lacked proper planning. We played as many as 96 cricketers in 20 years in Tests. Many have been axed from the team playing just one or two games. I think more money should be spent on the betterment of the first-class structure. The players need to be paid a good amount so that they are more interested to do well in the first-class arena. This is one aspect which should be addressed with more sincerity.