“In hindsight it was probably a bad decision.” This is the understated response from Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons to his team winning the toss and asking England to bat on Day 1 at Chittagong.
I have read a lot of blogs and articles over the last few weeks criticizing Bangladesh for distorting the cricketing records, criticizing the ICC for allowing this to happen, people saying that Bangladesh have achieved nothing during the years since they were granted Test status.
Basically a lot of negative stuff, but nevertheless I could see where people were coming from. I personally thought it was all a bit harsh given their recent results, I also thought they were not far off from claiming another major scalp (Australia at Cardiff in 2005) sometime soon!
Last year Bangladesh beat an understrength West Indies side 2-0 in a Test series, they beat both West Indies and Zimbabwe in ODI series, in January they gave India a scare in the 1st Test at Chittagong, and just recently they should have won the 2nd ODI against England at Dhaka.
All this showed signs of improvement and gave me optimism that Banglasdesh might be well on their way to becoming a more serious opposition. That maybe they could give a decent game to the Pakistani team that recently turned up in Australia, or the West Indies team that occupied the pitch briefly against England last May, that the knockers might have got things wrong.
How wrong could I have been after the opening day of this Test match.
If the cricket they played wasn’t bad enough, then the decision to ask England to bat first certainly was. Just what was the thinking? If any.
There was as good a chance as ever to lay down a good marker today against England, look at the basic facts. An inexperienced captain, an inexperienced bowling attack with one man making his debut and Bresnan playing, passing up the chance to (possibly) bowl last with their three spinners, bearing all this in mind it was a staggering decision to bowl first.
To put it bluntly, Bangladesh blew it.
If Bangladesh had batted first and put 300 on the board against an under strength English attack who knows what might have happened, in the past we have all seen how England’s batsmen can sometimes crumble under pressure as well. Bangladesh would probably still have lost, but at least the contest would have lasted more than the three sessions that this Test match is seemingly destined too.
You can try your hardest to compete against superior teams, to try to bridge the gap in class, to merge decent individual performances and come together as a team, and to try to turn decent days into victories. But if you can’t do the fundamental basics right you’ve got no chance.