Does Bangladesh deserve Test status?

With all the kerfuffle these days about Zimbabwe's continuing drop-off in standards, Bangladesh has pretty much survived any major criticisms. Zimbabwe has played tests since 1992, so their lack of performance is highlighted by their 15 years playing international cricket - if they can't improve after 15 years, then questions should be asked. Bangladesh, on the other hand, have been playing only since 2000, so their performances since then can be forgiven somewhat - after all, we can't expect them to perform brilliantly after just 7 years can we?

It is, however, statistics that can help us in this. At this present moment in time, Bangladesh is well on its way to being defeated by Sri Lanka in its 48th Test. So, taking out of consideration the current Test being played, how has Bangladesh fared over its 47 Test history?

Bangladesh after 47 Tests (7 years)

Won: 1 (2.1%)
Draw: 5 (10.6%)
Lost: 41 (87.2%)

Batting Average: 20.7
Bowling Average: 52.8
Difference: -32.1

So, on average, Bangladesh will go out to bat and make 207 every time, while the opposition scores 528. Not very flattering figures.

But, the argument may run, what about other "minnows" like Zimbabwe... or even Sri Lanka during the 1980s? Sri Lanka was the "easybeats" of the 1980s, so how do they compare after 47 Tests?

Zimbabwe after 47 Tests (7 years)

Won: 3 (6.4%)
Draw: 19 (40.4%)
Lost: 25 (53.2%)

Batting Average: 26.7
Bowling Average: 36.2
Difference: -9.5

Sri Lanka after 47 Tests (11 years)

Won: 4 (8.5%)
Draw: 22 (46.8%)
Lost: 21 (44.7%)

Batting Average: 28.2
Bowling Average: 38.6
Difference: -10.4

While both Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka were certainly weak, there was no doubt that, after 47 tests, their performances were reasonably good in comparison to Bangladesh. Even though the amount of tests won was still quite low, both Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka managed to draw over 40% of their tests.

The ability to force a draw is important. It shows "mettle" - that is, the ability to prevent the other side from wining when it has been able to dominate a match. Yet while Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka managed to draw over 40% of their matches, Bangladesh has only been able to manage 10.6% of them. This also comes out in the loss rate - Bangladesh loses some 87% of its tests while Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka lost 53.2% and 44.7% respectively.

Also notice the batting and bowling differences. With test "minnows" it is always expected that their high loss rate and low win rate will be reflected in a difference between batting and bowling averages. Yet the difference between the batting and bowling averages of Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka hover around -10 runs. With Bangladesh it is an embarrassing -32.1 runs.

One of history's perennial "minnows" has been New Zealand. Although being granted Test status way back in 1930, New Zealand were international cricket's "easybeats" until the 1970s. How did New Zealand fare in its first 47 tests?

New Zealand after 47 Tests (28 years)

Won: 1 (2.18%)
Draw: 22 (46.8%)
Lost: 24 (51.1%)

Batting Average: 23.1
Bowling Average: 40.0
Difference: -16.9

New Zealand's reputation as "easybeats" was well deserved. Both Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe managed to outperform New Zealand after 47 tests. But even so, New Zealand's less than impressive statistics over its first 47 tests are far more respectable than Bangladesh.

As you can see, with each of the stats above, I have placed the amount of time it took for the first 47 tests to be played. With so much international cricket being played these days, New Zealand's 28 years to play 47 tests seems like luxury - it also seems to underline the weakness of New Zealand cricket in those years (they didn't improve much over that period did they?). Yet there is no doubt that New Zealand has improved markedly since then.

But back to Bangladesh, All the statistics show that Bangladesh's performance in their first 47 tests has been, to put it mildly, abysmal. They have consistently performed at a very low level and have not shown any signs of improvement over time. By contrast, the performances of comparable minnows like Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and New Zealand after the same amount of tests is far superior, despite their own bad performances.

If the ICC has acted to prevent the re-introduction of Zimbabwe into international cricket based upon their recent bad performances and troubles, then the governing body should also seriously consider acting in regards to Bangladesh. At this point I think Bangladesh should be suspended from all forms of international cricket until certain performance criteria can be established. Having a Bangladeshi team tour England and even have the team become part of the county second division would be a good start. A similar situation could also happen in Australia with Bangladesh acting as a 7th team in the Pura Cup. As the years pass and Bangladesh's side begins to (hopefully) perform better, a renewal of their international status could be seriously considered - especially if their raw performances against English Counties and Australian states show consistent success.

© 2007 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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