Two months ago, Ricky Ponting told London’s Daily Telegraph: “I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at the moment”.
Four days ago, upon arriving in Bangladesh, he said: “Looking back I think I was wrong in what I said. I think Bangladesh probably do deserve their Test status.”
Brett Lee confirmed on the eve of the Test exactly what that “probably” meant: “[Bangladesh] will want to learn as much as they possibly can. It wouldn’t be fair to them if we went out and didn’t play as well as we possibly could … Bangladesh will learn a lot playing against us.”
Primarily, what Bangladesh has learned over the past two days is what it feels like to observe a thrashing from the good side. What Australia is learning, hopefully, is what it feels like to have a pin stuck in its massively bloated ego.
You can almost understand the hubris with which Australia arrived in Dhaka. Bangladesh, after all, has only won one of its 42 Tests, and that was against strife-torn Zimbabwe at its weakest. It loses most of its Tests by an innings plus runs. From Ponting and Lee’s point of view, the whole thing looked like a lazy walk-over.
What can’t be understood is why they would saunter into Dhaka and broadcast their arrogance and condescension like colonial overlords.
From a Bangladeshi point of view, it must have been coal for their fire. We have nothing to lose, coach Dav Whatmore will have told his players, but Australia has its pride on the line. On a rapidly crumbling pitch, the Bangladeshi batsmen and bowlers gave their Australian counterparts a lesson, posting 427 with the bat and then nailing Australia with aggressive line, length and spin until only Gilchrist and Lee stand in the way of a humiliating follow-on.
The last time Australia had to follow on was last August at Trent Bridge, and the time before was in 1988. Australia has never won a Test after following on. Is the world champion cricket team about to receive a dose of world-class karma?