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Taking baby steps for long


bangladesh cricket teamThe last match against Kiwis, a perfect Sunday entertainer after Kochi disappointment, made me stand up and notice the power that Bangladesh could be. The immediate dejection of the person next to me saying that this is their one off performance yet again, although a flamboyant one this time, was a dampener. Not because it came in a negative spirit but because that’s how even I had felt it for a long time now. The loop that Bangladesh’s cricket looks stuck in needed probing. Is their current clean sweep of New Zealand another one of their cameos or are they really making a positive step up the ladder?

Margin levels:

The first and the foremost aim of any sport, including cricket, is victory. Cricket, again like many other sports, adds the margin of victories to the story to understand the dominance, the significance of the performance. This margin, interestingly, brings out the true substance of a team.

A study of these margin levels On a broader scale, a team has 10 wickets to take and certain amount of runs to be made. Runs that can be made in an ODI vary from as low as 0 to the levels of 434. However for calculations sake, let us assume it as 300. In short, a 10 wicket defeat is comparable to the humiliation of a loss by 300 runs. Margin level is defined on these two figures- 10 wickets and 300 runs. So if a team wins by 3 wickets, its margin level for the match is 30%. For the losing team in the same match, it is -30%. Similar is the calculations for when the team wins by, say, 150 runs. The winning margin levels are 50% and vice versa for the losing team. for every match can bring out the quality improvements that the team is making over a period of time.

Here is the Margin graph for Bangladesh since they first started playing ODIs:

Graph 1: Margin graph for Bangladesh

The above graph looks promising for Bangladesh given the steady positive upward progress over years. Yearly Margin Average shows a downfall in 2010 but that could have a lesser impact on Bangladesh’s enthusiasm given that they have tasted their first genuine series win against a better team now.

One may note that ICC seems to have revamped the way they handle emerging teams in a very interesting manner. Till 2005, Bangladesh was always pitched against stronger teams which amounted to continuous defeats at international levels. However post 2005 ICC has managed to bring a balance between the various levels of cricket the emerging teams are exposed to.

This, according to me, is important on two levels:

a) To let the emerging team gel as an unit with some confidence and b) It definitely helps avoid boring one-sided matches which kills the cricket overall, especially amongst its emerging followers. Definitely ICC will have lots to cheer from current clean sweep of Kiwis.

Graph 2: Win percentages over years for Bangladesh

In fact, since 2004, Bangladesh has managed to keep themselves above 0% levels for wins against better teams. Again, 2010 looks slippery but Kiwi whitewash should keep the nation’s spirits up. Another proof of ICC’s brilliant strategy: Bangladesh has played 52 matches against teams other than Test playing nations. 83% success rate at this level surely must have complimented the efforts that won them the series against Kiwis.

Probably ICC could take their good job further by mapping emerging nations against bottom 5 teams on ODI list, which incidentally happened for Bangladesh but was denied to Zimbabwe who are facing SA currently.

Effect of Bowling Average on Win %:

The key for any team’s success is to have a strong bowling attack. Clearly, the problem of the Asian teams of lack of potent bowling line-up should be worse a problem specifically for teams like Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh has picked it up well since 2004 and so has their win percentages.

Graph 3: Bowling Average to Win % Comparison

One may note that Bangladesh enjoyed better bowling strength in 1998-99 and were able to convert matches in the same period. It may not be a bad idea for the board to invest heavily in bowling coaching for a team like Bangladesh at this stage.

Effect of Batting Average on Win %:

Graph 4: Batting Avg to Win comparison

Batting average has also seen a steady upward movement for Bangladesh which should add to their overall development as a team.

The change of captaincy from Ashraful to Shakib- Mortaza also seems to have had a positive impact on the team’s results. From Ashraful’s success rate of 21% to their combined success rate of 47%, the team surely is showing the benefits of the board decision.

Overall, the team has stood up for better performances in both departments and that seems to get reflected in their results. However, the team has seen a downfall after 2009 in almost all the aspects.

Perhaps, the ICC’s decision to hand out better teams to play against is one of the reasons for it. But team will need to steady soon or it will again have to build itself up for a comeback. It currently has a proper system set up by ICC and a thoughtful cricket board behind it to finally start flying higher.

World Cup 2011 could script a start of a better story for them, hopefully.

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