It has been the most awaited event of the year for Bangladesh. A full series of test and one day internationals against the world's best Australia.
The last time the two teams met, Australia were at the peak of their game and Bangladesh were at the bottom of their game. Australians had just won the World Cup and thrashed the West Indies while Bangladesh had lost to Canada and Kenya in the World Cup followed by innings defeats at home against South Africa. Thus, the pre-match hype went to the extent that David Hookes commented about Australia winning inside one day. Many were questioning Bangladesh's Test status. Questioned were also raised against the ICC about them becoming money oriented organization rather than a cricket running organization. As a result many expected Bangladesh to lose by few of the biggest margins ever recorded in test cricket. Nothing such happened and although Bangladesh lost both test by innings they played better than most than the expectation of many.
Lot have changed since then, and although no one is saying that Bangladesh will even draw a test match, one can assume that the standard of the game would be higher than before. Australians are just starting to show signs of a slide, as their standards seem to have dropping a bit and oppositions now starting to run them closer then before. With most of their key players closing in to the end of their careers the slide seems slow but not inevitable.
Tigers need to prove that lot have changed in the 3 years. Â© AFP
On the other hand Bangladesh is now at an all time high. Apart from winning their first ever test match/series against Zimbabwe, they have also beaten India, Sri Lanka and Australia over the last 18 months. They have also won ODI series against Zimbabwe and Kenya. During this period they have been able to build a team around youngsters, who have the potential of being called greats of their country and of the game itself. And with them slowly starting to convert their potential into performances, Bangladesh is definitely on the way up.
However, future is still far away from becoming present, and at present there is nothing to suggest that Bangladesh can even draw a test and that Australia is still the best team in the world. Then what should Bangladesh look to achieve in this test series? Realistically, result wise Bangladesh may not achieve anything, but performance wise they have a great opportunity to prove their metal to the world. Many teams around the world try to judge their strength after playing against Australia. That is because they are the best in the world, and when you play against the best you know get a true measure of your game.
Thus, if Bangladesh are able to put up their best performance not only will they improve their reputation but also get a clear understanding of how much they have improved over the last three years. The other thing that Bangladesh will have to keep in mind is that they have a massive break from test cricket after this series and thus if Bangladesh are able to play to their true potential they will have a proper idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are and then work on them during this long break. Admittedly, they have a lot of upcoming ODIs including Champions Trophy and the World Cup. They will have to concentrate on the ODI front but they cannot not be that busy to forget test cricket. Individuals will have the domestic season in order to work on the strengths and weaknesses.
As for Australia, they have brought their best squad with them, except for the players who are in injury. They have thus announced their intentions not to give away anything in this series. At the same time they have also lost a good chance for testing new players for the future and gaining something extra out of this series. Whatever they have done, they have helped Bangladesh by giving them the perfect opposition to test their strength.
Bangladesh can start testing themselves from tomorrow, when they take field against the best side in the world and at the same time prove to the world that three years down the line, things have changed.