Low-key? Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is a series all true Test fans should savour

Mustafizur Rahman has decided test cricket comes first for Bangladesh

Tony Bishop

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have one thing in common.

Their last Test-match win was against Zimbabwe just over a year ago: Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets in Harare in January 2020 to win a two-match series, Bangladesh by a thumping innings and 106 runs in Dhaka in February in a one-off Test.

Now Sri Lanka Cricket has announced that it will host Bangladesh for a two-match series next month. The series will be a part of the ongoing World Test Championship cycle. Neither is in contention to make it to the final, the participants in that already decided, but they will be looking to use the series to improve their position in the points table.

Since those Zimbabwe victories in early 2020, Bangladesh have played just two Test matches, losing both to West Indies. Sri Lanka have played five, drawing the second of the series against Zimbabwe and losing away to South Africa and at home to England. Having lost the white-ball section of their tour to the West Indies, their two-Test series in the Caribbean starts in Antigua on Sunday.

Whilst 2020 was the most exceptional and trying of years, in the same timeframe, England have played 12 Tests and India 10. The Big Boys it seems get to fill their boots, gorged on a healthy diet of competitive Tests, whilst the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been starved of opportunity.

That both teams will have the chance to test one another in the toughest of formats, gaining vital experience for their players is something for all cricket fans to celebrate. Phrases such as "low-key" may be used by commentators and pundits about the forthcoming series, but they fundamentally miss the point on the significance of series such as this.

Bangladesh were initially scheduled to play three Tests in July 2020 before the series was postponed due to Covid. The series was later rescheduled to be played in October and November, but was once again postponed due to the pandemic after the two boards failed to agree on a stipulated 14-day quarantine period

To find out how the Bangladesh Cricket public is reacting to the Sri Lanka series, I caught up with Guerilla Cricket listener and avid Bangladesh follower Andrew Wright, a long-time resident of Dhaka and better known to our listeners as Farong.

"Squad selection will have some bearing on opinions, which is leading towards selecting players who want to represent the country," he said.

"Shakib has lost his air of greatness by stating that playing in the IPL is higher on his priority list than playing Test cricket for Bangladesh, which has given Nazmul Hasan, the president of Bangladesh Cricket, both a licence to blood some young guns, particularly in the pace department, and his own popularity."

Interestingly too, adds Farong: "Whilst England fans bemoan lack of practice on dusty turners, Bangladesh are taking a global view and considering changing the way pitches are prepared for local competitions, adding a bit of life and some shades of green grass".

It seems preparing the new guard of Bangladesh stars to be competitive in Tests is high on the BCB agenda.

Whilst Shakib will be playing in Kolkata and not Pallakele, where both Tests will be staged, Mustafizur Rahman's fate is still not decided. He had stated his readiness to skip his IPL pay days for national duty and be available for the Test series against Sri Lanka if picked.

Bangladesh are yet to open their account in the WTC and are at the bottom of the points table while Sri Lanka are just above them with 80 points. Bangladesh will arrive in Sri Lanka on April 12, with the first Test scheduled to start on April 21 and the second on April 29.