Rakibul Hasan, The current captain of Bangladesh Under 19 team was only 9 months old when Bangladesh last toured Australia to play Test cricket back in 2003.
The young generation of the Bangladesh cricket team has not seen the Bangladesh cricket team play Test matches in Australia.
One might even be surprised to know that players like Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal have not even played a single Test on Australian soil.
The only exception to this group of players who had the ‘privilege’ to play in Australia might be Mashrafe Mortaza who was part of the Test team which toured Australia almost two decades ago.
However, one might argue whether it should be seen as a privilege when a cricketer tours Australia without an opportunity to play on the historic grounds, i.e. MCG, SCG, Gabba or WACA.
In 2003, Bangladesh played Tests and ODIs against Australia in Cairns and Darwin. Bangladesh Team, under the captaincy of Khaled Mahmud, played a total of five matches which includes two Tests and three ODIS and lost all five of them.
The result was expected as Bangladesh were only playing Tests for three years and Australia, at that time, were the world champions of Cricket.
Bangladesh, since 2003, have made significant inroads in ODI cricket establishing themselves as an opponent to be feared at home although the away records are still pale.
Bangladesh as an ODI team are competitive. But Bangladesh’s Test records since their gaining of Test status back in 2000 are not much impressive as the Tigers only won 16 of their 128 Tests.
The Away record for Bangladesh is also horrendous as Bangladesh managed to win 5 Tests out of 61 Tests before the New Zealand Tour this year.
But, with time to familiarize with the condition, Bangladesh has given almost every team a fight for their money in their territory.
New Zealand, for example, have invited Bangladesh five times. Bangladesh had never won a single game in any format on the Kiwi conditions before the latest historic Test win.
Their performances, especially with the bat, have considerably improved. In their past three series, Bangladesh have scored 400-plus in at least one innings.
The New Zealand tour of Bangladesh in 2022 was a historic Test series for the Tigers as they were the first overseas team to beat New Zealand in New Zealand since 2017.
Bangladesh outplayed New Zealand in the first Test match and were the deserved winner. It was a testament to the fact that Bangladesh can outplay opponents in away Tests and can prove to be a good Test opponent in away soils, given the chance and time to familiarise with the condition.
But this cannot happen in Australia, not because Australia almost steamroll every opponent on their soil, but because Bangladesh do not get the opportunity to play Tests in Australia at all.
Under the Future Tours Programme (FTP), Australia were set to host Bangladesh for two Tests and three ODIs in 2018 after almost a 15 years hiatus.
Considering the rise of Bangladesh as an ODI team and their steady progress in Test cricket, it was the right thing to do by Cricket Australia.
Having drawn a gripping series in Bangladesh by a 1-1 margin in 2017, the Tigers had a due tour in Australia for Tests, the following Aussie winter.
That trip never happened, ostensibly because Cricket Australia didn’t want to lose money from a series which they felt would be swamped by the football codes, according to James Sutherland, the then chief executive of Cricket Australia.
After the cancellation of the 2018 tour of Australia, there is little chance for Bangladesh to play in Australia until 2023 under the FTP.
There is also talks of even inviting Afghanistan to Australia for a one-off Test match but not Bangladesh.
For the local fans, it is heartbreaking to not have the opportunity to watch their team playing on the best grounds in the world.
Even though Cricket Australia’s statement makes sense as playing Tests against Bangladesh doesn’t create half of the hype and revenue in comparison to playing England or India, chances should be given to Bangladesh especially after the Mount Manganui triumph.
Again, taking the example of New Zealand, It took them 40 years to win their first Test series. Now they are a formidable side at home and compete well on away grounds as well. How did they achieve this? Getting continuous chances, not left out in the dark.
Bangladesh Cricket Team Playing in the MCG or SCG will be a dream come true for every Bangladeshi cricket fan.
Players like Shakib Al Hasan not playing a single Test in Australia is itself a joke. But the attitude of cricket Australia doesn’t seem to change anytime soon.
It is also BCB’s diplomatic failure to negotiate and manage bilateral series in Australia. Being one of the biggest cricket boards in the world, BCB needs to push the CA to invite Bangladesh and raise its voice against such a prolonged period of negligence towards a full member of ICC.