Bangladesh lose Test but win admirers

Bangladesh wasted their chance to spring a massive surprise on Australia in the First Test, and it was no surprise to anyone that the roused Australians would react with their customary vehemence to quell Bangladesh’s resistance in the Second Test. So it came to pass, but the agency with which this was inflicted was perhaps an even greater surprise then Bangladesh’s inspiring First Test performance.

In a golden age of batsmanship, we cricket lovers have had a chance to see some delightful innings. Back in the 1980’s it was a rare thing for an Australian summer to be punctuated with a double century, but now it is a rare summer we don’t see one. However, I’ve never seen anything quite so unlikely as Jason Gillespie’s 201 not out at Chittagong.

It’s not that he can’t bat. Australia’s recent cricket history is dotted with examples of ‘Dizzy’s stout defensive efforts with the bat. Quite a few nations have experienced the frustration of trying to dig him out, and Australia’s top order batsmen know that they can bat normally and not worry about him giving his wicket away. However, his method of stern and stubborn defence is not especially effective in quick scoring.

This monumental innings by Gillespie did not see a change of his traditional modus-operandi. A stout defence, a cover drive, and a dab around the corner provided him with the bulk of his runs, and it was only after he was well into his second century that he became more adventurous. He was kept company for the bulk of his epic by the redoubtable Mike Hussey, who scored the most un-remarked upon 182 that he’s ever likely to score. Together they put on 320, and sealed the fate of Bangladesh who had been skittled on the first day for 197.

Bangladesh’s response to this huge deficit was discouraging, with only Shahriar Nafees and Habibul Bashar showing the required skill and discipline. The Bangladesh batsmen benefited from some sloppy Australian fielding on the fourth evening, but fell quickly to Warne and MacGill on the fifth morning, with only a delightful cameo by Mohammed Rafique to give the Bangladesh supporters cheer.

So is it really a case of one step forward and two steps back? I do not think so myself. While Bangladesh will be embarrassed that it was Jason Gillespie that filled their boots against them, rather then one of the more established batting stars, the result in Chittagong surprised no one. But the First Test did surprise everyone, and there is no denying that there is some real talent in the Bangladesh batting lineup. Bangladesh have started a long way behind the field, and while progress has been slow for them, it is nevertheless clearly there. They did not win any Tests this time round, and it will be a while before they do against Australia but they did win admirers.

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