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Bangladesh: In Over Their Heads?

England's hints that it may not care to host Bangladesh for full test tours any longer does raise the question of whether Bangladesh's development at this level is really up to scratch. How would one measure this, sabermetrically?

To win a Test match, a team must take twenty wickets. You can't win a match any other way. So one way to measure how competitive a series is to check a ratio between the wickets one team takes against the number of wickets taken by the other. This actually works surprisingly well as a quantification of something one can observe. Also, one can compare Tests against common opponents to get some idea of how strong teams are in relation to each other.

In this case, however, I want to measure how competitive Bangladesh has been in eight years of Test matches compared with how competitive two recent newcomers, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, proved over their first eight years. So I assembled figures for each, and immediately one is struck by how much more cricket the Bangladesh side has made.

Instead of posting a column of figures, I've created a graph placing the track of each side across the eight years, measured against the Competitiveness Index.

Based on these figures, you're left with the conclusion that Bangladesh are, indeed, weaker than previous newcomers. Maybe they need to play less, not more, cricket at this level, but more Test-style matches in their domestic league. However, it could be that Test cricket has became less competitive generally, and Bangladesh's worse numbers are actually better relative to the 'average match' than their earlier counterparts. But that's a matter for another study.
26 December 2008

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