World Test Championship Table: Surprising Changes

World Test Championship Table: Surprising Changes

World Test Championship III: Implementing the Proposed Points Table

After the conclusion of the England-Pakistan Test series, we decided to update the World Test Championship Table based on our new proposed system in Part II of the segment, WTC: Good Structure But Needs Structural Improvement.

Earlier in Part I, How can the World Test Championship improve?, we described how the Big 3 is creating an imbalance in the World Test Championship via ‘marquee’ series’ like The Ashes and what can be done to improve it.

World Test Championship: Current System

Let us recall why we are discussing changing the World Test Championship (WTC) Table in the first place. Here are some of the flaws that WTC possesses today:

  • Number of Tests Played is uneven: England play 22, while Pakistan/Sri Lanka play 13 each.
  • Currently no distinction is made for Home/Away advantage: So far, England have played 11/4 (H/A), while New Zealand have played 2/5 (H/A).
  • Number of points fluctuate depending on # of games per series: Unfair to shorter series, and hence, discriminating against lower-ranked (and less financially stable) teams.
  • All-or-Nothing System: Test matches occur over 5 days or a max-of-15 sessions. One session can have a huge impact on the series, as the First Test of Eng-Pak exhibited. Yet, the points are awarded on an all-or-nothing basis.

Table I: Current World Test Championship Table

TeamSeriesTestsPoints
PWLDPWLDT
India431097200360/480
Australia3201107210296/360
England4301158430292/480
New Zealand311173400180/360
Pakistan4*12082330166/420
Sri Lanka20114121080/240
West Indies20205140040/240
South Africa20207160024/240
Bangladesh2*010303000/180
World Test Championship Table: Current System

*Note: Bangladesh tour of Pakistan was postponed after 1 Test match (out of a 2-Test series) due to COVID. Points are calculated as if the 2-match series will be completed eventually.

Brief Review – WTC Points Table Proposed System

Recall, our points distribution proposal is a two-tiered system, based on (1) session by session data and (2) Home/Away respectively.

In our proposed system, each team plays 12 Home/12 Away tests for a total of 24 matches over 2 and a half years, where the total points possible for each team is 1200 points, for an average of 50 points per match. The criteria is as follows:

I. Session By Session
  • Session Won: 2 Points, Even/Wash-Out/Bad Light: 1 Point, Session Lost: 0 Points
  • Points Possible Per Match: 30 (15 sessions)
  • Winning team is rewarded remaining sessions if match finishes early
II. Home and Away
  • (Home Team): Win: 16 Points, Draw: 8 Points, Lose: 0 Points
  • (Away Team): Win: 24 Points, Draw: 12 Points, Lose: 0 Points
  • (Average Total): Win: 20 Points, Draw: 16 Points, Lose: 0 Points

I. Updated Points Table – Session by Session

In the last article, we displayed the process for computing the session by session and overall total score for the West Indies-England series.

After the completion of the England-Pakistan series, we went back and similarly computed session by session points for every Test match in the WTC thus far…by hand.

After analyzing the 34 Test matches completed so far (with maximum of 510 sessions) , we came up with the following summary:

Table II: (New) Series and Session Summary

TeamsMatchesSessions
Played (H/A)Won (H/A)Lost (H/A)Drawn (H/A)WonDrawnWO/BLSessions Left
India9
(5/4)
7 (5/2)2 (0/2)0
(0/0)
5619330
Australia10
(5/5)
7
(5/2)
2
(0/2)
1
(0/1)
6818915
England15
(11/4)
8
(5/3)
4
(3/1)
3
(3/0)
77453216
Pakistan8
(3/5)
2
(2/0)
3
(0/3)
3
(1/2)
2617207
New Zealand7
(2/5)
3
(2/1)
4
(0/4)
0
(0/0)
2614712
Sri Lanka4
(1/3)
1
(1/0)
2
(1/1)
1
(0/1)
1111142
West Indies5
(2/3)
1
(0/1)
4
(2/2)
0
(0/0)
72180
South Africa7
(4/3)
1
(1/0)
6
(3/3)
0
(0/0)
201344
Bangladesh3
(0/3)
0
(0/0)
3
(0/3)
0
(0/0)
2500
Proposed World Test Championship Table: Session Points

*WO/BL – Wash out/Bad Light

II. Updated Points System – Total Points Based on H/A

After computing the (I.) total session points, we add the (II.) base Home and Away score. Hence, the updated World Test Championship Table looks as follows:

Table III: New Points Table

I.Session Points
(H/A)
II.Points (Home)II.Points (Away)Points Total%Rank (By %)Rank (By Total)Rank by Session (without H/A)
India194
(130/64)
210/230112/216322/44672.19%132
Australia193
(118/75)
198/230135/270333/50066.6%223
England267
(196/71)
284/506143/216427/70260.83%311
Pakistan127
(63/64)
103/13878/270181/40844.36%444
New Zealand97
(49/48)
80/9273/270153/36242.27%555
Sri Lanka51
(29/22)
45/9234/10879/20039.5%677
West Indies43
(8/35)
8/9259/16267/25426.37%788
South Africa 65
(49/16)
65/18416/16281/34623.4%866
Bangladesh9
(-/9)
N/A9/1629/1625.55%999
Proposed World Test Championship Table: Session Points – Based on Home and Away

Observations

  • We went ahead with percentage (%) of points won for the time being, since each team has not (and will not) play the same number of Test matches.
  • Pakistan and New Zealand switch positions as compared to Table I (4/5).
  • The most recent series, Eng-Pak actually received 66-26 points. According to our method, the scores would have been 82-62, which is a much better reflection of the series (and given that Pakistan was the away team).
  • If we had utilized Rank (By Total) as in the current system, we would have England #1, Australia #2, India #3, and South Africa up to #6, who have not had a good WTC so far.
  • Australia has one extra Test match drawn away from home compared to India. Hence, they are rewarded and are ahead based on total points. If we disregard H/A, India would be #2.

*Fun Fact: 32 sessions involving England (both home and away) were impacted by wash-outs or rained out, which is more than 2 Test matches or almost 11 days.

Conclusion

Note, at this point in time, the Proposed Table and the Actual Table look quite similar, but we attribute it to the small sample size, especially for teams ranked below 5.

We conjecture that as teams play similar amount of matches, our table will benefit the lower ranked teams and hence make the championship more competitive.

We will continue to update this table as more WTC matches are played.

In the meanwhile, let us know what suggestions you have to improve this table. Comment below, and we will see if it is possible to implement the idea!

Anyway, share, subscribe, and follow us on social media!

Source: Sincere Thanks to Vandit for helping in analyzing session by session data and computing overall points.

Image Courtesy: South Africa vs England, at Newlands, Cape Town Jan 2005, Test Day 3 Louis Rossouw /CC via 2.0

Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and SuperStar

Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and SuperStar

Lasith Malinga. 3 ODI hat-tricks of which 2 came in World Cups. 2 T20I hat-tricks. 4 wickets in a row twice, once each in ODI and T20I. Enough said.

Alright, let me break that down a little more.

Taking 4 wickets in a match is considered good. He has done that in 4 consecutive deliveries multiple times. One hat-trick in a lifetime is a golden achievement. He has taken 3 wickets in 3 deliveries on five separate occasions.

Lasith Malinga has hat-tricks for breakfast. He is just that good.

Sri Lankan cricket has been struggling since the golden generation of Jayasuriya-Dilshan-Sangakkara-Jayawardane-Vaas-Muralitharan-Malinga came to an end. With Sri Lanka recently folding out for 91 in a T20I match against England, we cannot help but look back at one of the stars of the golden days of Sri Lankan cricket.

Malinga turned 37 last year. He has been playing international cricket for 16 years. It seems he has been playing cricket forever.

Same rocking hairstyle, same slinging action, and the same drive to excel. Lasith Malinga has not changed one bit.

The Beginning

Mali, as he is affectionately called, debuted way back in 2004 in a test match against Australia, picking six wickets in the match.

Among a rising golden generation of Sri Lankan cricket that followed the ’96 generation with mellow characters like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, and Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka had found a rockstar.

He was just so different from the rest. That rockstar hair, the left-eye piercing, the in-swinging yorker, and of course, the slinging action.

Different turned into unique, which became something truly special.

With the introduction of Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews, the new entrants to the M-factor: Malinga, Mendis, Muralitharan, and Mathews, Sri Lanka’s golden generation was complete.

Together, Sri Lanka would win the 2014 T20 World Cup, make it to the finals of 2007 & 2011 ODI World Cup as well as the 2009 & 2012 T20 World Cup along with semi-final appearances in the 2003 ODI WC and 2010 T20 WC.

Lasith Malinga graphic
Sri Lanka have been struggling recently. We cannot help but look back at the golden generation.

The Memory

Although I had seen Malinga a few times before, the first moment which caught my eyes was that match against South Africa in the 2007 CWC.

Chasing 210, South Africa were cruising 206-5 in 44.4 overs. Enter Lasith Malinga.

206-6. 206-7. 207-8. 207-9.

First person to take four wickets in four consecutive deliveries in an ODI.

South Africa squeezed to victory with just 10 balls remaining. Although South Africa narrowly escaped, this was the type of spell that would be associated with Malinga.

If Mali gets into his zone, a flurry of wickets, a moment of inspiration, and a comeback is right around the corner.

The Statistics

Due to knee troubles, Malinga had to take a premature retirement from Test match cricket, playing his final test in 2010, at the age of 26. Still ended up with 101 Test wickets.

But when one door closes, another opens. He utilized his short bursts effectively in T20 cricket, becoming arguably the best T20 bowler of all-time in this new era.

Furthermore, Malinga saved his best for the ODI World Cups. Apart from the two hat-tricks, he took 56 world cup wickets, 3rd highest of all time.

The shorter the format, the more lethal Malinga is, as the statistics demonstrate below:

Tests: 30 matches, 101 wickets, 33.15 average, Best Innings – 5/50, Best Match – 9/210
ODIs: 226 matches, 338 wickets, 28.87 average, Best – 6/38, 11 4-fors, 8 5-fors
T20Is: 84 matches, 107 wickets, 20.79 average, Best 5/6
T20s: 295 matches, 390 wickets, 19. 69 average, Best 6/7, 5 5-fors, 10 4-fors
IPL: 170 matches, 170 wickets, 19.8 average, 5/13, 16.6 strike rate, 1 5-for, 6 4fors

Post-test retirement, he had a purple patch.

He featured in Cricinfo’s Team of the Tournament in the 2011 World Cup, the 2011 IPL (where he was also the Purple Cap holder), and the 2011 Champions League among others.

The cherry on top of the cake would occur in 2014, when he would captain Sri Lanka to 2014 T20 World Cup glory.

The IPL

No discussion on Malinga is complete without the IPL. Malinga is the highest wicket-taker in all IPLs, even while playing one season less than the next 4 on the list.

Only one of few players to have played for one team, Malinga is synonymous with the rise of Mumbai Indians as he was an instrumental force in their championship wins- 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.

Even after a not-that-great IPL, he would comeback and defend an amazing final over in the IPL Final 2019.

Apart from being their bowling spearhead, he has played a crucial role in mentoring the next generation of fast bowlers from around the world. Most notably, Jasprit Bumrah’s rise has been credited with Malinga’s influence at MI.

Later in his career, he has been seen on numerous occasions meeting players from opposition camps and giving them tips. Sign of a truly great player and leader.

What Makes Malinga So Great?

The consistency, accuracy, and longevity.

Bowling a yorker is hard. A bouncer even harder. Four World campaigns later, bowling consistently with recurring injury issues for 16 long years? A miracle.

Malinga’s skill set is an envy of the world. Slower yorker, fast yorker, in-swinging yorker, out-swinging yorker, wide-yorker, slower bouncer, fast-bouncer—he has it all. The astonishing part is he can bowl any of these at will. The Australians will testify to that.

Malinga’s bowling has become an art form. He perfected his yorkers by aiming just at a shoe in the nets. Slingy bowling style does not help the batsmen either.

More than the bowling style, it has been his ability to out-think the batsman. In the age of technology and video recordings, everyone knows what Malinga can bowl. They just do not seem to figure out when he will bowl what and still end up getting tricked.

The Legacy

One of the less talked about characteristics of Malinga has been his commitment to the Sri Lankan cricket team. Since the retirement of the golden generation, Sri Lanka’s fortunes have nosedived. Once guaranteed semi-finalists, Sri Lanka now ranks 7th and 8th in T20I and ODI respectively.

Amidst the nosedive, Mali stayed with the national team. He captained them in dire circumstances, even starring in their 2019 World Cup campaign and a little after to help in the transition.

Did he have to do that? Not really. With bad knees and paunch belly showing up, he could have retired from international cricket and enjoyed successes with various T20 leagues around the world.

But Mali being Mali, he decided to stay and give back to the team that has taken him to greatness.

That is what Lasith Malinga teaches us.

There will good times and tough times. Ups and downs will occur, but you need to stay true to your sport, art or profession. Never give up, continue to improve and develop new skills, and most importantly, mentor and help anyone and everyone out. Give back to the sport and your country.

Happy Birthday, Mali. You have given us great memories to cherish.

Rock that IPL 2020 (whenever you get there), and give it one final shot.

The Moments

Apart from the links above in the article, here are some of the hat-trick clips and other favorite memories of Malinga.

  1. 4 vs 4 vs South Africa, 2. Hat-trick vs Australia, 3. 4 in 4 vs NZ, 4. ODI Retirement

What is your favorite Malinga memory? Comment below, subscribe, and share this article ahead!

Source: ESPNCricinfo, YouTube, IPLT20.com

Image Courtesy: Lasith Malinga (cropped) – NAPARAZZI / CC BY-SA , Afghanistan Vs Sri Lanka 2019 World Cup (Getty via Cricinfo)

Top 7 Most Popular Cricket Videos

Top 7 Most Popular Cricket Videos

This week in our segment, Cricket ABCs -For New Future Fans, we will relive some of the most popular cricket videos in the last decade. The goal of this section is to try to explain the game of cricket to your new friends. And the best way to explain is by Videos.

Last time, we went over the rules of cricket. So now, let us learn cricket by watching some videos in different categories – fielding, bowling, and batting.

We are only using videos over the last 10 years for two reasons: (1) since the game has evolved over the years, and (2) enhanced video quality.

Below each video is a description and the number of views on YouTube (and still rising) for your reference. Here is my compilation of the most popular cricket videos.

Comment below on your favorite videos, and share this with new fans who are trying to learn cricket. Enjoy!

Videos

1. Best Catches – WC 2019 Edition

Starting where we left off in our last article over Best Fielders, we relive some of the best catches of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. There were diving catches, acrobatic boundary efforts, wicket-keeper excellence, and much more.

Views: 10 million

2. Best Yorkers – WC 2019 Edition

Moving on to bowling. One of the ways of getting batsmen out is by hitting the wickets, known as – ‘bowled.’ The most pleasing way for a bowled is for a toe-crushing ‘yorker.’ Enjoy this video on the Best Yorkers from the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Views: 20 million

3. Mitchell Johnson – Bouncer Compilation

Continuing with bowling, we look at the ‘Bouncer.’ This is a tactic used by bowlers to intimidate the batsman, and in the process, driving a mistake out of them. Mitchell Johnson in 2013-14 became one of the best and scariest bowlers, when he single-handedly destroyed a generation of the English team.

Views: 1.7 million

4. Biggest Sixes – WC 2019 Edition

Moving to batting. While bowlers and fielders try to restrict the number of runs the batting team can score, the batting team tries to score as many as possible. The most runs that a team can get from one ball is from a six, when the ball goes out of the stadium without bouncing. Here are the biggest sixes from the 2019 cricket world cup.

Views: 4.6 million

5. Dinesh Karthik’s Day Out

This one is also batting excellence. One of the best viewings of a cricket match happens when a game is thriller. This video is on a T20 game, where after 4 hours, there was little to separate the two sides. Bangladesh were ahead with just about 15 minutes to go in the Final of the Nidahas Trophy, when Dinesh Karthik scripted a once-in-a-lifetime comeback.

Views: 98.9 million (Let us see if we can take to a 100 million views!)

6. Dinesh Karthik Part II

Oh and that was not the end. You thought 98 million is a lot. How about 169 million views and counting? Watch Dinesh Karthik seal the tournament final with a last ball six.

7. The Most Epic Ending of All

Speaking of last-ball thrillers, how about leave the best for last? World Cup Final Super Over tie. For all the non-cricketing fans, both the actual match and the overtime, called the Super Over, were tied.

Ian Smith, the commentator, summarized it best, “7 weeks of cricket, 48 games, and one ball.”

Views: 6.7 million

For this final, you can also watch the entire highlights here (33 million), the final over here (33 million), and just the Super Over here (7.8 million)

What are your favorite cricket memories? Comment below, share, and subscribe!

Sources: YouTube-2019 Cricket World Cup, ICC- What is Cricket?, YouTube-Cricket Australia, YouTube – Sri Lanka Cricket

Best Cricket Fielders in the Modern Game

Best Cricket Fielders in the Modern Game

Suresh Raina’s retirement received numerous tributes, especially on his fielding. Recently, in a conversation with Harsha Bhogle, Raina was asked from a list of 10 great fielders, which 5 would he choose to field in the inner circle.

This inspired us to do another post on World XI: With Twists, this time made up of the best cricket fielders in the world.

Today’s Twist – Catches Win Matches

Create a World XI consisting of the best fielders in the modern game. The twist is that these best fielders should be able to play together in a match. Hence, we need to have at least one player who could also be a wicket-keeper (2nd skill) as well as five players who could bowl, preferably two fast bowlers.

There have been numerous wonderful fielders in the past, so to narrow our search, we also have the following constraints:

  • We limit our search to the past 30 years. Players like Roger Harper or the great Eknath Solkar at short leg would definitely be in our squads without this constraint.
  • We make a distinction between fielding and catching. Fielding consists of direct-hits, diving stops, and acrobatic catches. Otherwise, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, and Jacques Kallis have stellar records as catchers.

The Catch

There have been several middle-order batsmen with great fielding skills, but then who would bowl? We would love to stack our line-ups with the great South African and Australian batsmen, but we need to keep the balance of the side in mind.

Brendon McCullum and AB De Villiers are considered modern fielding giants, but who would you choose as keeper or would you drop both and choose someone else instead?

My XI

Here is our XI. We have an XI consisting of 3 Australians, 2 South-Africans and Kiwis, along with 1 player each from Sri Lanka, India, England, and the West-Indies.

  1. Martin Guptill
  2. Tillakaratne Dilshan
  3. Ricky Ponting
  4. Steven Smith
  5. Jonty RhodesHas there even been anyone better than Jonty? Yep two videos for him.
  6. AB De Villiers
  7. Andrew Symonds – (My favorite run-out compilation)
  8. Ravindra Jadeja
  9. Kieron Pollard
  10. Paul Collingwood
  11. Trent Boult

(12th man) Brendon McCullum – for his superhuman diving efforts

Honorable Mentions: Mohammad Kaif, Herschelle Gibbs, Suresh Raina, Glenn Maxwell

The Result:

Now we have a left-arm pace bowler (Boult), Collingwood and Pollard with their medium pace dibbly-dobblies, Jadeja the left arm spinner, and Symonds/Dilshan contributing part-time off spin overs. AB De Villiers will keep the gloves.

I would love to have Mohammad Kaif in my XI—a useful lower order batsman, but then we would have to either drop a wicket-keeper or a bowler.

The Philosophy:

Ever since T20 cricket came into existence, there has always been a debate between Test vs T20— traditional vs newer ideas.

I think there is space for both formats to coexist. Regardless, the one benefit from 21st century technology and T20 cricket is the focus on fitness. In a fast-paced T20 game, a run-out or diving save can change the outcome of the match.

Therefore, we have witnessed a large number of incredible efforts on the boundary in recent years. Fielding is no longer an ‘extra’ skill—it is now the norm.

Anyway, slightly older video, but I am going to leave you with few of the best catches in cricket below. Enjoy, SUBSCRIBE, and comment below who your favorite fielders/ best fielding memories are.

Top 20 Cricket Catches

If you liked this article, be sure to check out the Most Stylish Batsmen of the Modern Era.

Sources: YouTube (Videos)

Image Courtesy: JontyRhodes8 JontyRhodes8 / CC BY-SA, (Featured Image) – Paul Venter via CC SA 3.0

Why Shakib And Co are the True Fab 5 of this Era

Why Shakib And Co are the True Fab 5 of this Era

Is Babar Azam in the Fab Five? Does he join Kane Williamson, Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, and Joe Root or replace Root altogether? This was the talking point in the first test of the ongoing England-Pakistan Test series.

The debate will continue. In the meantime, I offer a counterargument.

Who are the true Fab 5 of this era? None of the above.

I argue that the Fab 5 of this decade is not a combination of stars. Rather, it is the core of a single team: The Bangladesh Fab 5Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Tamim Iqbal, and Mashrafe Mortaza.

The Argument

The Golden Period of The 2000s

In the 2000s, each team had a golden generation or a solid core.

Australia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka had world-beating teams. Pakistan had Younis-Yousuf-Inzi. Similarly, India had Sehwag-Tendulkar-Dravid-Ganguly-VVS, NZ had Fleming-Astle-McMillan-Vettori, and even a declining West Indies team had Gayle-Sarwan-Lara-Chanderpaul.

Although Australia were the standout team of the generation, all the other teams had multiple match-winners and could challenge Australia on their day. Over the past decade, though, most of the teams have undergone a transition as older generations retire.

The Current Generation

Sure, Williamson-Smith-Kohli-Root/Azam are all great. They have consistently dominated the batting charts across formats both at home and abroad. However, teams consisting of a group of players consistently winning games over all the formats in the past decade has been a rarity.

New Zealand had a brief period of stability with the McCullum-Guptill-Williamson-Vettori-Boult/Southee era. Likewise, England were just beginning to develop a side that could sustain its dominance on one-day cricket before the pandemic intervened. Sri Lanka and South Africa have yet to recover from the transition, while most others revolve around one or two individuals.

Hence, the only team in the past decade with a golden generation has been Bangladesh.

The Team: Bangladesh Cricket Fab 5

Today’s Bangladesh team is a competitive force. Maybe even second best in Asia. It is no longer considered an upset when they win. This was not always the case.

First Memory

1999 and 2007. Years that Bangladesh fans remember fondly.

Bangladesh first burst onto the scene in the 1999 Cricket World Cup (CWC) when they stunned Pakistan. Although that game caught the eye of the world and paved their Test cricket dreams, it was the 2007 WC victory against India that would usher a new era for Bangladesh altogether.

Mashrafe Mortaza rocked India with his opening spell and 4 wickets. Tamim, Shakib, and Musfiq all made crucial 50s. 17-year old Tamim’s running-down-the-wicket assault to Zaheer Khan was the highlight, and Mushfiqur stayed till the very end to deliver victory.

The Stats

Tamim Iqbal:

Wisden cricketer of 2011, Tamim Iqbal established himself as Bangladesh’s opener between 2007-2011. After a brief slow patch, Iqbal has become the symbol of consistency since the 2015 World Cup. Earlier in his career, he was known for his aggressive stroke play. As he gained experience, he has taken more responsibility and curbed the aggression.

Result: Test centuries and longer ODI innings. Accumulated hundreds in all formats, highest Bangladeshi run-scorer across formats, and the first to 10000 international runs.

  • Test: 4405 runs, 38.64 average, best of 206, 9-100s/27-50s
  • ODI: 7202 runs, 36.74 average, best of 158, 13-100s/47-50s
  • T20I: 1758 runs, 24.08 average, best of 103*, 1-100/7-50s
Shakib Al Hasan:

Shakib is, perhaps, Bangladesh’s first cricket superstar. One of the best all-rounders of all-time and certainly of this era. Coveted by worlds T20 franchises and Ranked No. 1 in all three formats for the majority of the decade. He has rescued Bangladesh time and again. Whether it is finishing a innings, taking 5-fors as a hobby, or taking responsibility as No.3 at the 2019 World Cup, scoring over 600 runs and taking 10 wickets— he has done it all.

Records: Fastest to 6000 runs + 250 wickets, 2nd Bangladeshi to 10000 international runs, and more

  • Test: 3862 runs, 39.4 average, best of 217, 5-100s/24-50s + 210 wickets at 31.12
  • ODI: 6323 runs, 37.86 average, best of 134*, 9-100s/47-50s + 260 wickets at 30.21
  • T20I: 1567, 23.74 average, best of 84, 9-50s + 92 wickets at 20.58
Mushfiqur Rahim:

Only wicket-keeper to score two or more double centuries in test-cricket (he has 3), Mushfiqur has become the pillar of Bangladesh’s line up and an energetic presence behind the wicket. Short in stature, he has become one of the best players of the pull shot and the reverse sweep. Always preserving his best against India, he most recently finished the T20I game in 2019 to exorcise the ghost of Bangalore in 2016. Will go down as one of all time best wicket-keeper batsman.

  • Test: 4413 runs, 36.77 average, best of 219*, 7-100s/21-50s + 119 dismissals
  • ODI: 6174 runs, 36.31 average, best of 144, 7-100s/38-50s + 225 dismissals
  • T20I: 1282 runs, 20.03 average, best of 72*, 5-50s + 62 dismissals

Mahmudullah: (Riyad)

A late-entrant into the Fab 5, Mahmudullah is Bangladesh’s shock absorber. Has been involved in almost all of their famous victories. Most famously, promoted to No.3 in the 2015 World Cup, he scored back-to-back centuries. The turning point in Bangladesh cricket was the 2017 Champions Trophy match against New Zealand when he and Shakib combined a partnership to go from 33/4 to chase 265. Later in his career, he has become a finishing specialist. Also a handy off-spinner and astute captain in the BPL.

  • Test: 2764 runs, 31.77 average, best of 146, 4-100s/16-50s
  • ODI: 4070 runs, 33.63 average, best of 128*, 3-100s/21-50s
  • T20I: 1475 runs, 24.18 average, best of 64*, 4-50s
Mashrafe Mortaza: (Koushik)

Debuted in 2001, the longevity of Mortaza’s career as a fast bowler itself is an incredible achievement. Began his career as someone who could bowl in the late 140s Km/hr. Ended as a line-and-length control bowler with speeds down in the low 120s. Started the fast bowling revolution in Bangladesh, but his claim to fame is his captaincy. Kept the team united for the last 5 years of his career, providing a period of growth for Bangladesh cricket. Also a handy lower-order batsman.

  • Test: 78 wickets at 41.52 + 1/1 win as captain
  • ODI: 270 wickets at 32.93 + 50/88 wins as captain
  • T20I: 42 wickets at 36.35 + 10.28 wins as captain

What Makes Them Great?

The beauty of this generation is in the variety of the roles they play.

Tamim Iqbal is an opener. Mushfiqur Rahim is a middle-order wicket-keeper. Shakib Al Hasan their premier spinner and all-rounder. Mahmudullah the calm finisher. Mortaza—once the pace spearhead, now the ace captain.

They have all been vice-captain and captain at some points in time. Shakib-Musfiq-Mahmudullah have batted in all the positions in the middle order. Hence, the fluidity in the batting order and experience is why they have become a consistent team.

Regardless of the selections around them, the Fab 5 have been a reliable presence for the past 10-15 years.

The opening batting partners of Tamim and bowling partners of Mortaza might change, the understudies to Mushfiq’s wicket-keeping and Riyad’s finishing might come and go, others from Bangladesh’s left-arm-spin-factory might briefly complement Shakib, but these five themselves have remained a constant.

The Moments

After India were defeated in 2007 CWC, South Africa also faced defeat against the mighty Tigers. Subsequently, they knocked out England in 2011 and 2015. They truly became a global force in 2016 with series victories against India, South Africa, England, and Australia across formats at home.

Recently, with the 2018 Asia Cup final almost ending in a tie, Bangladesh winning their first tri-series, and a memorable 2019 CWC campaign with an inspirational superhuman display from Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh have definitely elevated their status in world cricket.

Furthermore, Bangladesh U-19 team has shown immense progress. They went to the semi-finals in 2016 under Mehidy Hasan Miraz and last February, they lifted the U-19 WC trophy when captain Akbar Ali kept his nerve. The new generation of Bangladesh are talented and hungry to win.

The Legacy

Imagine this squad for the 2023 Cricket World Cup:

Openers: Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Naim, Soumya Sarkar
Wicket-Keepers: Liton Das, Musfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun
Middle-Order: Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Akbar Ali
All-Rounders: Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan Miraz
Fast-Bowlers: Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Haider, Taskin Ahmed

Liton Das has been earmarked as a destructive batsman for the future. The Fizz has already made a name in T20 leagues around the world. Saifuddin and Miraz have taken the baton from Shakib for the future all-rounder spot.

In addition, with Mosaddek Hossain, Taijul Islam, Sabbir Rahman in-and-out of the side and the likes of Saif Hassan and Rakibul Hasan waiting in the wings, this squad looks potentially dangerous. All-rounders, solid openers, variety of fast bowlers, and choking spinners, this squad has it all.

Mortaza has said on numerous occasions they are targetting 2023 semifinals at least. Maybe they will go far in the 2023 world cup. Maybe they won’t. In any case,

Whatever Bangladesh cricket accomplish in the future from now, it will be built on the shoulders of these giants.

What The Future Holds

With the advent of T20, overkill of cricket, increasing injuries to fast bowlers, mental pressure the players need to deal with, we may no longer have sides that play together for a long time across formats. Heck, we may now have different teams playing different formats on the same day, an idea Eoin Morgan recently alluded to.

What we can do, is to enjoy the final stretch of these players that have given Bangladesh cricket and world cricket whole loads of joy.

Like the tributes? Check out our piece on Rahul Dravid or the dual retirements of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.

Sources: ESPNCricinfo (scorecards and reports), YouTube (videos), ICC (videos)

Image Courtesy:

Shakib: Nurunnaby Chowdhury (Hasive) / CC BY-SA 4.0, Tamim: S dip.T / CC BY-SA 4.0, Rahim: Rasi56 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Mahmudullah: Nurunnaby Chowdhury (Hasive) / CC BY-SA 4.0, Mashrafe: Jubair1985 / CC BY- SA 4.0,