Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bangladesh Makes History?

England won, ending 75 years of Lord's discomfort. What more can one say? Well, a few things, but let's savour the moment, and turn instead, for today, to events in the Caribbean.

While I've been on hiatus, the fragile West Indian side, which seemed finally to be coming out of a long funk after battling stoutly in a drawn series against New Zealand and then beating England in the Caribbean, gradually fell to pieces again. They basically rolled over against almost the same England side. They reached the semifinals of the 20/20 World Championship, and had a slightly dispiriting one-day series against India. Then the Player's Association fell out with the Board, which has been making a lot of bad decisions lately.

Thus, a profoundly weakened side took the field against Bangladesh, who promptly beat them, twice. Now, I happen to think people underrate Bangladesh a little bit. They're not as good as those Zimbabwe sides of 1998 to 2001, but they're definitely in reach of the sides just above them on Test ladder.

In other words, for West Indies to field a second-string side against them is an idea not likely to end successfully. And that's what happened. Bangladesh took on a weak side and won not just a Test, but a whole series.

Was this good for Bangladesh cricket? I wouldn't like to say no, but it's a response worth considering. Was this the kind of humiliation that West Indies' cricket needs to shake up its house? Definitely not. Both sides in the dispute can blame the other for the debacle.

What makes matters worse, is that the ICC has no real sanction available to solve this problem by suspending West Indies' Test status until they get their house in order. The best West Indian players can look forward to Indian Premier League money, while others can play in England for the time being, so it's basically taking the players' side against the Board's, which would be inappropriate for the ICC.

Frankly, as an international sport, cricket is looking more and more of a shambles. Maybe the time has come for something like a cross between the English Premier League and the American system, with franchises around the world, playing T/20, while local associations administer some international five-day matches as a sideline. Those countries that want to have Test matches can fit them in around this 'Super League'.

But you know what? I think some cricket boards might find themselves without a franchise.

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