Wednesday, April 12, 2006
It is with great joy that I have been watching the events unfold in Fatullah. A few weeks ago, Kenya were in Bangladesh and being beaten soundly by basically the same team that is now doing so well against Australia. Many of those who looked at the 4-0 scoreline put it down to how far Kenya had fallen. Even in Bangladesh, this seemed to be the prevalent attitude. There were not many out there who looked at the results and gave the Bangladesh team credit for how much they have improved. Good results against Sri Lanka were dismissed, as were other upsets that Bangladesh achieved over the last year. It has taken a visit from the World number ones and a 150 odd first innings lead to finally get the pundits to say 'hang on a minute, these guys can actually play'. Damn right they can play, and as I said in my posts on Banglacricket after the Kenya series, it will not be too long before the major teams are looking at Bangladesh as a must-play opponent. One that will be tougher and tougher to beat over the coming years. I am glad for their sake that they are doing well this match - how satisfying it must be to have put the team captained by Ricky Ponting under the wringer after his disparaging comments about Bangladesh cricket last year.
I am also exceedingly glad from a Kenyan perspective as well. Bangladesh have proved in their series against Sri Lanka, and so far in this match that they are a genuine Test match team. As such they are expected to whitewash teams like Kenya, that are not. Despite losing, we gradually improved against them, and indeed there were moments in both of the last two matches were it looked as though Kenya could win. I know Tests and ODIs are a different game, but the point is we were able to not only learn from the experience, but also begin to compete. Losing is never great, but it neither was it the shameful result that was painted by many.
Then there is the feel that if they can do it, why can't we. Let me clarify here - the cricket culture in Bangladesh is completely different to that in Kenya at the moment. It is not going to happen overnight that we can build such public support and produce World beating players. It will be a long hard slog for Kenya to get to the same level. Bangladesh have shown though that it can be done. Once, they were our fiercest rivals and regular victims. We must work hard to ensure that we return to this as the status quo. One thing I can guarantee is that the only way this will happen is for Kenya to grow the game, inspire the support of the public and improve a great deal. Bangladesh are not likely to look back in a hurry.
The match in Fatullah is still a long way from being concluded. There are still two days to play, and Australia are not the World's top ranked team for nothing. They will be pulling out all stops to ensure they still win this match, or at the worst draw. Again this is heartening for Kenya. On return from Bangladesh, a similar thing happened to us against Holland. They batted first, and after a couple of days, we were fighting the follow on. Like Fatullah, it was a great effort from one man that saved it, and then in the second Dutch innings Kenya made inroads into the batting line-up. Summary reports said that Holland ran out of time. I wonder, if the next two days are lost in this first Test, whether the headlines would read 'Bangladesh run out of time'. One of the great things about cricket is its ability to turn in an instant. With more time, it was still possible, if unlikely, that Kenya could have gone on to win in Nairobi. Just as Australia could well come back to win this match.
For the sake of Bangladesh though, and for all the wannabes in the Associate fold who will be looking to emulate them, lets hope they can go on and notch up a victory against the top ranked team in the World. Maybe, just maybe, people like Ricky Ponting will lose some of their arrogance and realise that there are plenty of great cricketers out there if only they are given the right chance and are nurtured correctly. Cricket is a great game, and efforts to spread it should be encouraged, not opposed. Who knows, in ten years time it could be Kenya or Holland who are making the World number one team fight to avoid the follow on. Roll on that day, and roll on the Bangladesh team in Fatullah!
Posted by Chemosit at 8:10 am