Unraveling the Downfall of Bangladesh Cricket: A Closer Look

Decline of Bangladesh in Cricket

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB)

Children who love cricket passionately see every alley and street as a playground in a country where it is disappointing and disheartening to witness their national team always struggling in international events. Their mediocre performance in the field has left fans with nothing but frustration. This is the story of Team Bangladesh, a team that has shown its signs of greatness many times in the field. But in the latest World Cup, the team’s performance was such a disaster it really begs the question, is this really the same team? Or maybe the management is to blame, a team that always have unconditional support from its fan base, begged to wonder what really went wrong. To answer this question, we need to look back at the history and achievements of Bangladesh cricket, and how they rose to prominence in the international arena.

The team’s inception dates back to 1971, when Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan. Cricket was popular in the region. In their early days, the team struggled to make an impact and had to face defeats against established teams. When they achieved the associate membership of the International Cricket Council, the ICC, it was a new beginning for their mostly passionate but inexperienced cricket team of youngsters. This membership served to elevate their status, and after the team secured test status in 2000, they could finally join the elite group of cricket-playing nations, their performance mostly falling short. The team’s test journey started against India in November of 2000. The match ended in defeat, but it left the team and its players with a newfound confidence in their abilities.

Amin al-Islam managed an exceptional 145 runs in the first inning, and Naimar Rahman bested legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, taking six wickets in the first innings. In the coming years, they managed to play formidable cricket, but their stats didn’t reflect their hard work and dedication. The team fell short in the most crucial moments and that always left the fans dissatisfied and wanting more. More than a decade after gaining Test status, the team is yet to make any notable achievements in this format. In these 23 years, they have managed only 18 matches out of the 138 they played, an astounding 102 losses in Test alone. The most disappointing is their 0% win record against teams like Pakistan, India, and South Africa in the format.

These are teams that they have performed great against in other format. The team played a staggering 431 matches out of which they only managed to win 156 matches. This paints the picture of a team which spent most of their matches learning and identifying their mistakes rather than correcting them. But in the midst of all of this, the team has had their fair share of winning moments. The team won the ACC trophy for the first time in 1996 and then in 1998. In 1997, following their ACC win, they won the ICC trophy which was a great milestone for the young team. They showed glimpses of great performances throughout the years. They beat Pakistan by 62 runs in the ICC World Cup 1999. It was their first win against a test playing cricketing giant.
They even went on to beat the then World Cup champs, Australia by 5 wickets in the 2005 NatWest series.

It was a remarkable gift for the fans who supported the team through the thick and thin. The team also managed a five-wicket win against the cricket powerhouse India in the 2007 World Cup. Their team had many legends of the game, namely Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Varun Darsawag, and Amos Dhoni. But the Bangladesh team managed to beat them, and Mashraf Martaza became the man of the match for closing off India’s batting in only 192 runs. The excellent 52 runs off the bat of Tamim Iqbal also played a key role. The team again showed a great performance in a test match against a very strong England team.

It marked the first win against a tough team in recent years. The match brought out excellent performances from Tamim Iqbal, who scored 104 runs in the first innings. But the brute force that stopped the England run chase was Mahedy Hassan Miraz’s technical bowling. He put on an excellent performance that day and to take six wickets during both innings of the Brits. It was a breathtaking performance by Miraz, which excited the fans like never before. In the next Asia Cup that happened in 2018, Bangladesh put on one hell of a fight against a very strong Sri Lankan team, securing a win by 137 runs. But their overseas performance in tests and ODIs still had flaws that needed a lot of work. The team managed to deliver great performances in both the 2015 and 2019 World Cup.

They showcased the ability to chase high scores, managing to chase the 322-run target set by West Indies in the group stage match. It was a first for Bangladesh. Shaqib Al Hasan also proved his worth as the greatest all-rounder in world cricket. He created history, scoring over 600 runs and taking 11 wickets in the tournament. But at the same time, the tournament also made it clear that the team always fell short in crucial moments, which made them unable to advance past the group stages. Following a respectable performance in the 2019 World Cup, the fans and critics held the expectation that the team would improve their current condition. But things only changed for the worst. After the 2019 World Cup, Bangladesh’s cricket team went through a phase of transitioning and rebuilding.

They had some occasional successes, such as historic test wins against Zimbabwe and a T20 series win over India, but they lacked consistency, especially in foreign conditions. The rise of young talents such as Afif Hossein and Mohammad Naeem did give glimpses into the team’s future potential. However, the retirement of Mushrafe Murtaza as ODI captain marked the end of an era, and the team struggled to find a balance between the enthusiasm of youth and the stability of experience since then. Not to mention the clear disagreements between players and the BCB that followed after the World Cup. Bangladesh’s cricketers made a historic move by protesting against the BCB and its officials.

They united to express their unhappiness over many issues that affected their careers. They were led by senior players who presented a list of 11 demands that included better pay, facilities, and domestic cricket, among others. This showed how unhappy the players were with the way cricket was run and managed in Bangladesh. The cricketers’ demands covered different aspects of their professional environment, from the lower levels to the international stage. The strike became a significant event, revealing the problems that had been hidden for a long time. It was a way for the players to demand more fairness and respect that they felt was missing. The BCB, faced with this strong challenge, agreed to talk, which resulted in a solution that agreed to meet most of the players’ demands. This event was a turning point in the history of Bangladesh cricket, showing a more confident and powerful player group. But it certainly made one thing clear, the BCB had some internal problems that had a hand in the team’s current lackluster performance.

Some critics have accused the BCB of dictatorial decision-making processes. It has felt as if a few powerful officials dominate the board’s governance structure, exerting significant control over cricketing matters in the country. This raises questions about how transparent, accountable, and democratic the board’s operations are. Nazmul Hasan Papan has been the president of BCB for four terms in a row since 2013. Many accusations of autocracy in the BCB also relate to its dealings with player selections, financial decisions, and the domestic cricket structure. There have been cases where decisions seem to have been made by board members without enough discussion with relevant stakeholders, including the players. One such instance was Nazmul Hassan Papan’s revelation to the media about the internal disputes between the players, namely, Tamim Iqbal and Shakibal Hassan.

The revelation of their dispute just months before the World Cup worsened the matter. It divided the fans into factions and created unwanted controversy before the most important game of the year. This led to Tamim Iqbal making a retirement announcement from international cricket during the ongoing series with Afghanistan only three months before the World Cup. He later changed his mind after the Prime Minister asked him to reconsider. This sudden announcement left the team without a captain for the World Cup, which forced Saqib Al-Hassan to step in. Later on, a board member informed Tamim Iqbal of his exclusion from the World Cup squad, supposedly due to an injury, through a phone call.. He then spoke to the fans directly through social media to explain his side of the story and said that he was ready for the World Cup and also expressed his dissatisfaction in the board’s handling of the situation.

He felt that there were some people that held negative attitudes towards him. In the end, he wished the best for the team and asked the fans to not forget him. Shaqib Al-Hassan, on the other hand, was also under pressure and scrutiny from the fans because of the board’s decisions. He faced criticism for his captaincy and his attitude towards the team and the media statements he made to clear up the situation. It felt as though the BCB was more interested in the creating of headlines than winning the World Cup. People started poking fun at statements made by Nazmul Hasan Papan, one of which was, we have to keep in mind that our target isn’t this World Cup, it’s the next World Cup. The BCB’s approach to handling things creates a sense of a top-down approach in the management of the sport, which may not always match the needs and views of those who are directly involved in the game.

The team always suffered with problems relating to their coach while all of these events took place. Shandiga Hathorasinghe, who coached the Bangladesh team from 2014 to 2017, was reappointed by BCB. He was offered a very attractive salary for his previous achievements and contributions to the team’s growth and success during his first stint. Under his guidance, the team had performed well in the 2015 World Cup. They won a series against India, Pakistan, and South Africa in 2015. Additionally, they improved their ICC ranking significantly, showing their increased competitiveness at the international level. However, his second tenure was a major disaster. There was a drop in the team’s performance. He faced many allegations of being biased, ignoring the experienced players from the team. The team director, Khalid Mahmoud Sujan, stated that he had no authority or role within the team. This was despite his position as the team director during the World Cup.

Under Hathrasinghe’s coaching, Bangladesh experienced a string of setbacks. They lost a home series against Afghanistan and underperformed in the 2023 Asia Cup, only managing to reach the top four. Additionally, they suffered defeat in the home series against New Zealand. The team’s performance in the World Cup 2023 was the worst in the history of Bangladesh cricket. They only managed to win two matches against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Ultimately, they exited the tournament from the group stage. The team’s performance in the World Cup 2023 was the worst in the history of Bangladesh cricket. They only managed to win two matches against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, ultimately exiting the tournament from the group stage. Even the win against Sri Lanka was full of controversy. This arose due to Team Bangladesh’s desperate attempt to appeal for a timeout. Their goal was to take Matthews’ wicket. The top-line batting order was a disaster in almost all of the matches they played. Experienced players were also struggling in the field alongside the young stars. Once in a while, players like Mamadou Lariat came to the rescue just to save the face of the team.

Due to their poor performances and standings, the Bangladesh team found themselves uncertain. They were unsure if they would even qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy. This uncertainty arose because only the top eight teams are allowed to participate. Their team’s performance was so frustrating. Alan Donald, the fast bowling coach of the Bangladesh cricket team, decided to step down from his position. He made this decision immediately after the World Cup 2023. The captain, Shakib Al Hasan, expressed his disappointment in an interview. He accepted the fact that this was the worst World Cup performance of Bangladesh.

More than a decade after earning membership in the ICC, the team finds itself struggling to find its form. They now face challenges in winning against other cricket-playing nations, despite having beaten them numerous times before. A team that’s been playing for decades somehow managed to start over and over from the bottom of the barrel. This has disappointed the loyal fanbase. They showed nothing but unconditional love and support towards their favorite team. This remained consistent regardless of their performance.

This begs the question, will Bangladesh be able to return to their glory days if the situation remains the same? Or is this really the downfall of Bangladesh cricket? Only time will tell.

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