In fact, in terms of runs, it was actually Bangladesh’s lightest defeat in Tests in South Africa. This was also only the second time Bangladesh had dragged a Test in South Africa into the fifth day. On top of that, the spirited performance of the pacers and Mahmudul Hasan Joy becoming the first Bangladeshi to score a Test ton against South Africa would make it one of Bangladesh’s more palatable defeats in away Tests.

But in reality, the players, coaching staff and the fans are disappointed. The disappointment comes from the realisation that the Tigers had a very good chance of actually winning the Test had they been a little braver.


Bangladesh was up against a weakened South Africa Test team, which was missing many of their important players as they are busy in the IPL, and after the 2-1 win in the ODI series the momentum was also firmly on Bangladesh’s side.

After winning the toss, Mominul Haque had the chance to make the brave call and bat first. The inexperienced South African attack would’ve been under pressure to deliver and a big total in the first innings would have placed Bangladesh in a good position to test the host batters on a pitch that was providing more help for the spin bowlers as the match progressed.

But, as we all know, Mominul didn’t go that way. He opted for the safer option of bowling first. His decision shielded his batters from having to bat in the morning session of Day 1. But the batting collapse he wanted to avoid on the opening day eventually took place on the closing day.

Mominul’s decision to field first on a pitch that historically spins on the fourth and fifth day felt like the result of overly cautious captaincy. Mominul also accepted all the blame for the defeat, saying he made an error in judgment.

But there is more to it. After the match there were murmurs, which were later confirmed by Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan Papon’s statement to the media, that Bangladesh’s coaching panel, which has South African head coach Russell Domingo and former Protea pacer Allan Donald, had opined that Bangladesh should bat first if they win the toss. But their suggestion got seemingly overruled by the two senior-most cricketers in the team – Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim.

They, in the meeting, said that Bangladesh should avoid batting first and Mominul agreed with his senior teammates. Their decision, needless to say, backfired.

Senior players and coaching staff disagreeing on tactical issues is very common in cricket and happens in every team. But in the context of this match, it is actually quite surprising that the team went against the advice of the coaches and did what the senior players wanted.

Domingo was a successful coach in South Africa’s domestic ranks before becoming the head coach of the Proteas. On the other hand, Bangladesh’s bowling coach Allan Donald is a bonafide legend in South Africa cricket. Donald was also the pace bowling coach of the South Africa team.


Their expertise on South African conditions and players helped the team in the ODI series. The players themselves admitted that in various interviews and media interactions.

Adhering to their advice in the Test series should have been a no-brainer. But before the first Test, the team ignored their words and paid the price.

Rumours of a power struggle inside the team between the head coach and the senior players have been around for some time. After the Test win in New Zealand earlier this year and the ODI series win in South Africa, hopes were that the tension had subsided. But what transpired before the first Test in Durban could be viewed as proof that all is not well between the senior players and the coaches.

Bangladesh will next play their second and final Test against South Africa at the St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, starting on 8 April.

Domingo has coached at the venue for 15 years before becoming South Africa’s coach. Allan Donald is the highest wicket-taker in Tests at St. George’s Park with 40 wickets in seven matches at an average of 18.20. On the other hand, the Bangladesh team has never played a match in any format at the venue.

Domingo and Donald’s knowledge on the wicket and conditions could give Bangladesh an edge in the contest. Their advice could prove to be invaluable but the question remains, are the players willing to take it.

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