Victory in Bangladesh is no gimme
Date: September 18, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
In 2015, the possibility actually looms large.
Australia will soon depart our shores for a two-Test series against the sport’s most recent entry to Test cricket.
The fifteen strong squad that boards the plane will be one of the country’s least experienced in many a year.
Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris have ridden into international cricket’s sunset, taking with them a combined 292 Tests of experience.
David Warner (43 Tests) and Mitchell Johnson (71) are also absent – the former nursing an injury, the latter simply resting.
It will be a stern test for newly anointed skipper Steve Smith on his first overseas tour in charge.
Smith, with 33 caps, is one of just four members of the party to have played over 20 Tests alongside Peter Siddle (57), Nathan Lyon (46) and Mitchell Starc (22).
The remaining 11 men have played a total of 49 Tests, with two of them – Cameron Bancroft and Andrew Fekete – yet to don the baggy green.
The upcoming tour represents only the second time Australia has played a Test series in Bangladesh.
The first, also a two-Test series, took place in April 2006 and is best remembered for Jason Gillespie’s epic 201 not out at Chittagong where the tourists triumphed by an innings and 80 runs.
Back then the team boasted names like Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist, Warne, Lee and Hussey.
There are no such luxuries in the current ranks.
Not one player in the current squad has played a Test in Bangladesh.
In 2006 victory was automatically assumed.
This time it is not.
Smith’s team will start as favourite but it would take a brave punter to really splash out on them.
Australia’s batsmen have regularly been found wanting in Asian conditions.
In the past three years Australia’s top order has been cast aside with ease by both India and Pakistan – losing 4-nil to India and 2-nil to Pakistan in the Emirates.
On both occasions the vanquished side boasted vastly more experience than the one chosen for this series.
On paper the current Bangladesh side is unlikely to instil fear into Aussie fans.
However, there is no doubting that their cricket is on the rise.
Their last Test series was a two-match encounter on home soil against world number one South Africa.
Both matches were rain affected draws with the second Test at Mirpur confined to a mere 88 overs.
However, in the opening Test at Chittagong, the home side dismissed South Africa for 248 before compiling 326 against an attack that included Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
In one-day cricket this year Bangladesh has been outstanding.
In the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March they beat England at Adelaide.
Following that were three home series, each of which they won – 3-nil over Pakistan and 2-1 against both India and South Africa.
They are starting to show that opponents can no longer take them lightly, especially at home.
On the batting front the stand-out is 23-yerar-old Mominul Haque who averages 56 after 17 Tests, with a top-score of 181 against New Zealand.
He has been ably supported by the likes of Tamim Iqbal who averages 39, Shakib Al Hasan (40) and Nasir Hossain (37).
Whilst they are not outstanding numbers they are competitive and whether the inexperienced Australian top-order can match them is still to be determined.
In the field, Bangladesh will also rely heavily on Al Hasan whose left-arm finger spinners have netted 147 wickets at 33 in his 42 Tests – figures that almost parallel those of Lyon.
His 7-36 against New Zealand is the best of his 14 five-wicket-hauls.
Many of the other bowlers are raw internationally but again they will use the local conditions to test Australia’s historic vulnerabilities on low and slow pitches.
No doubt the host will endeavour to produce pitches that are heavily to their liking.
This series will be the start of a new era in Australian cricket and a thorough examination of the new breed.