The key to Bangladesh's success in Tests came from using pitches which would offer square turn from the very first day, resulting in optimum usage of their spin-heavy resources.
Test match success has eluded Bangladesh ever since their inception in the format in 2000. Wins have been hard to come by and it was not before 2016 that Bangladesh started winning Tests at home on a regular basis.
The key to their success was using pitches which would offer square turn from the very first day, resulting in optimum usage of their spin-heavy resources. The plan was the brainchild of Mushfiqur Rahim, the then Test skipper as he revealed it in Tamim Iqbal's live show. He said that the goal was to win matches, even if they finished in three or four days.
And thus far, the Tigers have managed to beat sides like England and Australia courtesy of these rank-turners but a question has risen since they started using those. The questions have been around if using these pitches abided by the spirit of cricket.
Why the question?
For many, the main accusation was that these pitches took out the vintage flavour from Test cricket. The contest between the batsmen and bowlers, the fierce spells or the blissful batting. Also, allegedly these pitches took out the unpredictability from the game as the matches almost never went to day five. All these factors resulted in the question but if those points are agreed on, then comes the real question, is not the will to win the real spirit of the sport?
Nothing counts but the win
In reality, the only thing that stays in the record books is the results. And that is why each team tries their best to win. And when games are at home, who does not take advantage?
Bangladesh's tactics have been questioned but does anybody question it when England prepares a green top against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge? Or when New Zealand does the same at Auckland? Or when Australia faces India with a hard, bouncy pitch at Gabba with hound-like quicks ready to hunt?
No, because that is how it has been. Only when subcontinent sides use spinning tracks, then comes the question because it is only this century when the idea came to life.
For a team like Bangladesh, winning Tests were a miracle before they introduced the spinning tracks. After that, they have suddenly become a huge threat while playing at home. And that, in reality, brings a fine balance to the world of cricket as Bangladesh are not only having trouble abroad but also handing teams trouble at home.
Still, the sportsmanship factor might be hurt because of the usage of such pitches but every team takes advantage of their home conditions, why shouldn't Bangladesh?
Words from an expert
Former National Game Development Manager of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Nazmul Abedeen Fahim opined that despite the usage of spinning tracks going against the spirit of cricket a bit, every team utilises their strengths and so does Bangladesh.
"Yes, we try to utilise our strength by using turning wickets and there is nothing wrong with that. Every team tries to take advantage according to their strength. But yes, the teams travelling here will have to play in a negative situation which definitely does not completely comply with the spirit of cricket," Fahim said.
He added, "Australia, India, everyone does so and so does Bangladesh. Bangladesh's strength lies in spin and when a non-Asian team visits, we try to utilise that strength. From that angle, we can not call it unjust as everyone does so. If our team goes to Australia, they will prepare bouncy wickets and take advantage of that. For me, there is nothing wrong with that."
Fahim also said that there is not much opportunity to use absolute rank-turners as ICC oversees the quality of the pitches.
He added that Bangladesh needs to balance their strengths as non-Asian teams have started to figure out how to combat spin.
"We need to balance our strengths. There is no guarantee that we will play on turning wickets forever because the other teams are learning to cope with turning pitches. The players spend a lot of time on Asian soil and they now have a proper understanding of turning pitches," Fahim added.
In the end, what matters is results. And cricket's spirit is most hurt when a team doesn't go all out for a win. Maybe some things matter more than a win, but not in the record books, not when you need wins.