The international cricket calendar has been working overtime recently. Especially with 2 big tours concluding and a few more about to start.
Bangladesh (The cricketing minnows) are steadily on the way up and looking back will be kicking themselves that from eight matches against Pakistan
they managed a duck. It is almost a quad-series going on this year between Pakistan, England, South Africa and Bangladesh. By September 12, two of the
three legs will have been completed if this was a true championship. It is now time to take time out and look at the big picture of where Bangladesh
It all starts back at the World Cup when none of the four teams mentioned made the Super Six. England forfeits a game against Zimbabwe and then
wins comfortable games against Holland and Namibia. Then came their first real challenge. England was up against the powerhouse of Pakistan. England
won comfortably by a good 112 runs and was poised for the Super 6 although left were two difficult games against both finalists, India and Australia.
England really struggled against India and lost by 82 runs, so a loss to Australia would put them out. This was Australia?s last game before the
Super Sixes and was undefeated leaving England rank underdogs. If it weren?t for a 7-wicket hall and a late order half century by Queensland
fast-bowler Andy Bichel, then England?s story could have been a lot different. Australia got home by 2 wickets.
Pakistan was very up and down throughout the World Cup. Starting off with a heavy loss against Australia due to a maiden century from Queensland
hard-hitter Andy Symonds. Pakistan thrashed Namibia by a whopping 172 runs, which honestly was no surprise. Then was the famous day-nighter against
England when they were chasing a mammoth total and fell well short. Pakistan was off to a poor start. Pakistan thankfully played their second
associate member in Holland and won by a comfortable 97 runs. Then came the long-awaited battle between two foes. Pakistan and India!!! Pakistan set a
modest total due to a splendid hundred by Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar. If Inzamam was not run out then Pakistan might have stood a chance. India
reached the total with 6 wickets to spare due to debatably the worlds best batsman Sachin Tendulkar. Pakistan had almost no chance of making the Super
Six and their World Cup hopes were washed away with a no-result against Zimbabwe.
In Group B we saw the tragedies of both South Africa and Bangladesh. Bangladesh hadn?t won a game for four years before the World Cup and
was desperate for wins against both Canada and Kenya. They were captained by wicket keeper Khaled Mashud who was to resign after the World Cup and
coached by Pakistani Mohsin Kamal. Bangladesh couldn?t have started worse with a 60 run loss to the hands of CANADA of all countries. A
ten-wicket loss followed in the next match with a hat trick by Chaminda Vaas with the first three balls of the match. Bangladesh managed to salvage
their only points of the tournament with a rain-abandoned match against the West Indies. The cricket ?boks of South Africa were
Bangladesh?s next task and once again were dispatched of by ten wickets. They were defeated by New Zealand by seven wickets in the fifth game
and the only way to salvage any pride from the cup would be a win against the giant-slayers of the competition Kenya. Sadly for Bangladesh they let
themselves down with too many dropped catches and handed a 32 run win to the Kenyans as they went into dance as an entrance to the Super Sixes.
The Cricket ?Boks of South Africa were on home soil and high chance of taking the cup away from the all-conquering Aussies. But it was not
to be. They were snuffed out by 3 runs in the tour opener against the West Indies in dramatic circumstances. Lance ?Zulu? Klusener smashed
South Africa back from the dead and almost saw them home but fell 3 runs short in the final over. That certainly was not the start they wanted to get
off to. South Africa then moved on to a comfortable win against Kenya. But it wasn?t all beer and skittles with Jonty Rhodes breaking his hand
and once it was announced that he would go back home he retired from the game. With that under their belt they moved onto the Kiwis. They started
perfectly hitting 6/306 with a magnificent 143 from Herschelle Gibbs. But the game was rain-interrupted and due to the Duckworth-Lewis system and the
fact that New Zealand had only lost 1 wicket, they reached their target of 1/229 in 36.5 overs due to a superb hundred by captain Stephen Fleming.
South Africa was in really bad shape halfway through the preliminary rounds. They comfortably disposed of Bangladesh but were left with 2 matches
against Canada and Sri Lanka. With the way the tournament went with Kenya winning as well as Sri Lanka and New Zealand it meant that South Africa
would need to win both their remaining games. They defeated Canada by a mammoth 118 runs and then moved onto a do-or-die match against Sri Lanka. Sri
Lanka hit 9/268 with Marvin Atapattu leading the runs with 124. In reply the South Africans went hard at the total but lost too many wickets along the
way. The factor was the rain and with one ball to go until it was washed out Mark Boucher needed 1run to move South Africa on. He found the fielder,
the game was washed out and for the second World Cup in a row, South Africa were kicked out with a draw
In the Aftermath of the World Cup all four teams opted for new captains to help them improve for the future.
England?s captain Nasser Hussain resigned after the World Cup and had made his intentions clear from very early. England decided to look to
the future and appointed 28-year-old superstar, Michael Vaughan to the captain?s job. England afterward experimented with numerous all-rounders
instead of Craig White.
Pakistan lost many players. Afterwards selectors went on a frenzy after their teams poor performance and dropped a lot of experienced players.
Among them were
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Saeed Anwar, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq. Saeed Anwar later retired, as did Pakistani legend Wasim Akram. A lot of
the players dropped are only now regaining their place in the team.
Bangladesh lost both captain and coach. Khaled Mashud was later under suspicion with match-fixing and late-night shenanigans before the big
games. Mohsin Kamal was taking the team nowhere and the BCC grabbed Sri Lankan Dav Whatmore with whatever they could. Ex-Bangladeshi captain Akram
Khan retired from a wonderful career leaving more space to breed youngsters. Khaled Mahmud stepped into the shoes of the captain and is struggling to
keep his place on his own accords.
South African Shaun Pollock resigned too making 21-year-old Graeme Smith captain. The South African?s dropped likes of Pollock, Klusener
and Kallis afterwards and Herschelle Gibbs received a ban for being in with Hansie Cronje during his match-fixing days and took the ban as a
South Africa in England
On July 24, the South Africans departed for their biggest challenge of the year apart from the World Cup, taking on the talented England side.
Both were forward to the tour after their disappointing World Cups and with both captains being tested for the first time the tournament had major
importance. England lost veteran fast-bowler Andy Caddick for the year and replaced him with two test cricketers on their comeback. Left-handed
batsman Graham Thorpe and fast-bowled Darren Gough. This was also to be the last tour for Alec Stewart OBE, the 39-year-old wicket keeper with over
8000 test runs. For South Africa, Graeme Smith got his first ?real? challenge as test captain. Gibbs had come back from his ban and
Pollock was back in the side and Kallis was on the brink of return. The proteas were also trying out a few fast bowlers. They had previously toured
Bangladesh for 2 tests and ran rings around them. Jacques Rudolph being the standout on debut and the fast bowlers being tested.
The tour couldn?t have started any better for South Africa. On Day One of the first test at stumps they were 1/398. Herschelle Gibbs hitting a
superb 179 and Graeme Smith answering the call to critics who claimed him too young to captain South Africa to victory over the Poms. By stumps on day
three the Proteas had posted 5/594 with Graeme Smith hitting the years highest score of 277 and leaving South Africa almost no chance of a loss. The
English captain also hit a century in the most important test tour of his life. Leaving England all out for 408 early on Day Five. South Africa had a
lead of 186 and were looking for a declaration which occurred after Graeme Smith hit 85 to leave South Africa a slim chance of victory with England
needing 321 runs to win in just over a session. The English lost one wicket on their way to drawing the first test.
South Africa won the second test comfortably by an innings and 92 runs with captain Graeme Smith hitting another double ton to give South Africa a
first innings lead of 509. English all-rounder hit a quick fire 142 to restore some pride for the Poms. The English returned the tables in game 3
starting off with two centuries from Mark Butcher and Nasser Hussain. Notably Michael Vaughan hit only a single run. They salvaged an 83 first innings
lead after James Anderson ripped up the South African order with a 5-for. England then choked trying to set a large total and Shaun Pollock bounced
back with 6/39. South Africa chasing 202 collapsed in English style with Kirtley taking 6/34. James Kirtley was ?Man of the Match? for his
bowling spell to lead England to victory. The five test series was tied at 1-1 and could go either way but the good news for South Africa was that
Jacques Kallis had returned.
In Game 4 South Africa managed a 35 run lead with another hundred from Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis managed 3 wickets. The tournament was
?make or break? at this moment. If South Africa could manage a large total then England would struggle chasing in the fourth innings and
then South Africa would be in great position to claim the series and make up for their World Cup in February. But if they choked then England would
have a great chance of winning the tournament with home ground advantage and momentum. If England were to win in the context of the tours then England
would read as the better team. But as it turned out South Africa gave all they had and managed 365 with the batsman resisting the English bowlers.
Andrew Hall was left stranded on 99 and England were set with 401 to win in the fourth innings. An almost impossible task. Jacques Kallis took another
6 wickets to charge South Africa to victory. South Africa had defeated the Poms in fine style by 191 runs and were in pole position to prove to the
English that they were the better team.
In Game 5 the South Africans would be over the moon with there start needing just a draw to take the series. They hit 484 in the first innings with
Herschelle Gibbs continuing his form. They say you have to be really unlucky to loose a test match after hitting 400 but South Africa are no strangers
to bad luck. England amazingly managed a large first-innings lead, hitting 604 with a double ton by opener Marcus Trescothick and a century by Graeme
Thorpe. All these runs were scored at an incredible run rate leaving only a slim chance for the match to be drawn. South Africa would need at least
one century to stand any chance of winning the tournament. They only managed 229 and left England 110 for victory. The English managed to draw the
series 2-2 by winning the fifth and final game by 9 wickets. Marcus Trescothick was announced man of the match and duel Men of the Series were South
African captain, Graeme Smith and English all-rounder, Andy Flintoff.
The series was drawn 2-2 meaning that the teams finished equal after the series. It was obvious early on that the South Africans were the main side
early on due to two centuries from Graeme Smith in consecutive games. But full credit to the Poms for fighting back, using their ace find of the tour
Andy Flintoff. In he end they could have won game 4 and the series but the South Africans kept their nerve to save the tour 2-2. Home ground advantage
really helped the English, which might leave the South Africans as the better side. Yet they did much the same in the World Cup and South Africa had
the home ground advantage and England forfeited a game. So who is the better side?
Graeme Smith 714 @ 79.33
Marcus Trescothick 487 @ 60.87
Makhaya Ntini 23 @ 35.39
James Anderson 15 @ 39.86
Bangladesh in Pakistan
Bangladesh returned from a tour of Australia with their heads up and very much looking forward to get back into the sub-continent. Dav Whatmore the
Bangladeshi coach was desperate for improvement and that?s exactly what the Tiger?s did. Pakistan brought back Inzamam-ul-Haq, Saqlain
Mushtaq and Younis Khan for the tour and also gave birth to the likes of Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Hameed and Umar Gul.
Day One by Bangladesh?s standards went very well. Hitting 278 in a day (one of their highest all-time test totals) was a fine task and
Habibul?s 71 led the way. 170 on debut by Yasir Hameed saw Pakistan to a first innings lead of only 58. This read very well for Bangladesh,
especially after a fine hundred by Habibul Bashar. Sadly the rest of the Bangladeshi order couldn?t support him and they were all out for 274.
Yasir Hameed hit another century in the second innings leading Pakistan to a 7-wicket victory. A fine achievement by the Bangladeshis considering it
was there smallest ever loss. This appeared to be a much different side from the one that played in the World Cup under the captaincy of Khaled Mahmud
and he improvement under Dav Whatmore was immediate.
Bangladesh did an amazing job on Day One of the second test as the finished the day at 2/240. Javed Omar was well on his way to his maiden test
hundred and Habibul Bashar fell just short being dismissed for 97. The next day Javed Omar and Mohammad Ashraful soldiered on and moved Bangladesh to
2/310. Bangladesh were in a great position to win or draw the game but then started the collapse. One after one they headed back to the pavilion due
to a magnificent 6/50 by Shoaib Akhtar. Javed Omar however did manage to reach his first ever test century scoring 119. Bangladesh was eventually all
out for 361. Believe it or not the Pakistani?s choked as Mohammad Rafique picked up 5 wickets. Pakistan were all out for 295 and the innings was
wrapped up with the tail-end going in three consecutive balls from the hand of Alok Kapali, separated by an over but it was still the first
Bangladeshi hat-trick and he finished the innings with figures of 3/3. Bangladesh for the first time ever had a first innings lead and it was by a
total of 66 runs! But once again the Bangladeshi?s failed under pressure falling pray to Shoaib again as he finished with 10 for the match.
Bangladesh was all out for a pathetic 97. That left Pakistan 163 to win and managed it with one wicket down. The Bangladeshi?s had let their
country down and should have been extremely disappointed with the result. But undoubtedly the boys had improved and now were in contests with Pakistan
for test victory and that was certainly good news.
The Bangladeshi?s learned from their mistakes and once again gained a first innings lead of 106. But it wasn?t Bangladesh?s batting
that put them in such position. They only managed 281 but Mohammad Rafique and Khaled Mahmud taking 9 wickets between them brought the Pakistan
batsman down for the lowest ever total against Bangladesh of 175. Bangladesh would certainly not blow it like in game 2 and realised the importance
and had nothing to loose. Their second innings of 154 was nothing special but it left Pakistan to chase 261 in the fourth innings, no easy target. It
started perfectly for the tiger?s who had the opportunity of a lifetime. When Farhan Adil was dismissed by Mohammad Rafique, the
Pakistani?s were left reeling at 5/99. The Bangladeshi?s were pumped and the fans were even more so excited for their first ever test
victory. And at stumps Bangladesh considered themselves almost certainties to do so when Pakistan was 6/148. Only one man stood in their way,
Inzamam-ul-Haq the local legend. He played every shot in the book and batted with the tail-enders to lead Pakistan to victory. But Bangladesh
didn?t go down without a fight, they almost pulled it off and in the end only lost by 1 wicket. Well they didn?t win but they sure proved
that they deserved their test status and are a force to be reckoned with and with the amount of youngsters in the team many can see them going a long
The Pakistani?s won all five one-dayers and in only one of them did Bangladesh come close. When Pakistan pulled off a win with 2 balls
remaining. Umar Gul and Yousuf Youhana shone for Pakistan and half-centuries were scored by Alok Kapali, Rajin Saleh, and Hannan Sarker twice each.
Most Runs Test:
Habibul Bashar 379 @ 63.16
Yasir Hameed 373 @ 74.60
Most Wickets Test:
Shabbir Ahmed 17 @ 20.05
Mohammad Rafique 17 @ 23.82
Most Runs ODI:
Yousuf Youhana 366 @ 91.50
Rajin Saleh 211 @ 42.20
Most Wickets ODI
Umar Gul 11 @ 16.18
Tapash Baisya 6 @ 24.16
South Africa in Pakistan
Going into the tournament the South Africans were clear favourites. Considering the Pakistani?s had a lot of youngsters and struggled against
Bangladesh. South Africa were recovering and a lot of their cricketers finding form against England. This would be their first serious win since the
World Cup. Should South Africa completely whitewash the Pakistani?s would that put South Africa and England in a different class to Bangladesh
and Pakistan? But now as Pakistan has a 2-0 lead in the One-Day series questions start to rise, should Pakistan win. Would this mean that Pakistan is
better than South Africa and England? Would this mean they would be one of the strongest sides in world cricket? If so where does that leave
Bangladesh? Does that mean that Bangladesh could be very competitive against South Africa and England? Is it right to rank a team that hasn?t
won an international match for 4 years amongst the might of South Africa and England? Looking at that we all hope that Pakistan doesn?t
whitewash South Africa because it would make where they all stand in the world of cricket very complicated.
England in Bangladesh
England goes to Bangladesh expecting a 2-0 and 3-0 win. But the boys from Bengal put up such a good fight against Pakistan. So perhaps they could
salvage one win from the tour on home soil. If so does that make Pakistan better than England? No matter what Pakistan should remain better than
Bangladesh considering their 8-0 win over the Bangladeshi?s. If Bangladesh can win just one game all these questions rise up and if Pakistan and
Bangladesh can do the un-expected in the tours staring this month, that makes them all around the same class. By November 12 Bangladesh might have
finally realised what having test status is about and by able to have a chance against Zimbabwe. By November 12 all should be much clearer, how good
these sides really are.
ICC Test Championship
2nd South Africa
ICC ODI Championship
2nd South Africa