Through the long struggle for national identity, through the long fight for independence, through the long quest for international status it was the dream of every cricket lover in Bangladesh that one day they would feel themselves on a par with the other Test-playing nations of the world.
That dream came true on the 10th of November 2000 in Dhaka against India when Bangladesh played its Inaugural Test. They made 400 batting first, and everyone felt that Bangladesh were worthy members of the elite. But 33 Tests later a win still eluded them, and draws had been but three. Competitiveness was a distant dream; respectability almost a forlorn quest at times.
But this season had shown marked improvement – a competitive series was played in the West Indies, flashes of fire and spark were witnessed in the Tests against India and a sensational match was won in an ODI against India in December 2004.
It had to happen eventually, and it did. On the 10th of January 2005 in Chittagong against Zimbabwe, the dream – so close to being a nightmare up to then – became a reality. Bangladesh won its first ever Test – by a thumping margin of 226 runs. Bangladesh have arrived.
Cynics will say that Zimbabwe are themselves barely worthy of being called a Test team - playing as they are their first Test since being suspended by the ICC last year for fielding a weakened uncompetitive team after a dispute between their board and several leading world-class players. Zimbabwe’s own last victory came against Bangladesh in February 2004.
But a win is sometimes more than a win. This win is deeply potent and will resonate for a long time. Yes, there were laps of honour and national rejoicing; yes, there were messages of congratulations from cricketers and statesmen the world over; yes, the Captain and Man of the Match Habibul Bashar can say “it’s the greatest day of my life” but this victory is the start of Bangladesh as a cricketing force. It may not be the strongest force for a long time, but once victory is tasted the appetite for it grows.
One of the things that is always interesting in sports is how extraordinarily sensitive athletic performance is to personal and social expectations. An example is the four-minute mile. For years, it was a mythical barrier that no one thought could be broken. So no even came close to breaking it.
Next Page | “That's what happened after Sri Lanka won a Test, after New Zealand won a Test, after India and Pakistan won. They kept on winning.”