It has been a terrific last couple of months for the Tigers. The Test and ODI series sweep in the West Indies was followed by a 4-1 thrashing of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and the Bangladesh team and its players broke and rewrote records along the way. These moments have been particularly special for Head Coach Jamie Siddons who has seen his belief in the young group starting to pay off. The coach summarizes the triumphant journey and looks ahead to the busy future:
Yes the tour was a huge success and to win two Test matches (the first for most of us) was amazing. Teams are truly judged on how they perform in the longer version as there is no place to hide and if you don't play well for the five days then you will lose. We have been preparing for Test cricket the whole time. I have been involved with batsmen practicing the skills required to both survive and succeed, mostly handling the short ball and also being prepared and skillful enough to leave the danger ball outside off stump and wait for the bowler to bowl a bad ball.
Our focus on spin bowling and including many allrounders in our team was a bonus as we had many options in the spin department to back up the pure class of Shakib Al Hasan, the best allrounder in the world.
Of course the fact that some of the established West Indies players went on strike when we arrived made our chances of winning a lot more realistic and possible. The cricket we played however was first class and the opening batting of Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes in the Test matches and then that of Tamim and Zunaed Siddique in the one dayers continually set the foundation for the middle order to thrive and make scores that would enable us to win the matches.
I believe that the players though still very young and on the whole very inexperienced, have just shown the wisdom and improvement that comes with time. They have all been together in the team for over 12 months since the departure of a number of players to the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which by the way has been quickly forgotten by many when judging our team! This group is gaining more and more confidence at this level and will continue to improve as time goes on.
Shakib's captaincy was successful although at times his youth was tested and his patience with others of lesser ability in his team tested. He led magnificently with his own performance throughout the tour and I think won three or four man of the match awards and man of the series as well.
SMOOTH SAFARI IN ZIMBABWE
The tour of Zimbabwe was just more of the same I guess with the opposition being a little less experienced and having less match winners than a team like India or Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe expected to win the series but they did not expect us to have such a depth of talent and to have many match winners of our own. Even in the last game when Zunaed was injured, our wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim put up his hand to open the batting and fell just short of posting his maiden ODI century.
We had great performances throughout the tour. Players like Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Zunaed, Mushfique and Dollar Mamud played major roles at times in winning matches for us with both the bat and ball! The more well known match winners like Shakib and Mohammed Ashraful were at times outstanding and made their presence felt over and over. Ashraful is still searching for consistency but his hundred in the first ODI in Zimbabwe set the tone for that series. Tamim continued to show maturity and improvement and followed his maiden Test century in the West Indies with a man of the series prize in Zimbabwe to signal that he was a force to be reckoned with in the future.
WHERE WE STAND
There is now no doubt that despite the negativeness from some quarters following the performance in England in the ICC World T20 this year, this group of players is gaining ground on the big boys of International cricket and they are improving with every series.
We all know that we have a long way to go to be classed as a real threat to the top four teams but they will no longer take us lightly.
If nothing else I hope that all of those who saw fit to criticise this team of young cricketers can now admit that there is definite signs of us improving and that we are on the right track for big things in the future. Young players take time to mature and gain confidence at this level and we have now taken a major step forward.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
We have a very big season coming up, especially from the end of December. We have series against Sri Lanka and India, a tour to New Zealand and a home and away series versus England. We also have another chance to perform in the World T20 in May. All of this in the space of just five months! Our next assignment is against Zimbabwe in October and I am sure we will have another very competitive series with the winner being the team that makes the least mistakes and who applies more pressure in the crucial moments of the matches. This is something we are working hard at doing.
We know we have room for improvement in areas such as fielding and in many other departments, however all of this will take time and can not be solved by words or criticism but will be solved by hard work and commitment, both of which this group of players have vowed to continue.
We would all love instant success at all levels but we should be realistic and be enthused by the prospects of this group. I am excited and my experience with the Australian team tells me that our players are on track to becoming a very competitive team.
For now let's celebrate the team's latest triumphs and keep supporting them as they grow and attempt to find their way at the highest level.