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Bangladesh cricket chief Saber Hossain Chowdhury
"It's been not just a dream but, I think, also a national obsession"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 June, 2000, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
Bangladesh delight at Test status
Crowd of cricket fans in Dhaha
Crowds gathered in Dhaka to celebrate the news
Thousands of cricket fans in Bangladesh have taken to the streets to celebrate their country's acceptance into the elite of Test-playing nations.

Many waved flags and lit firecrackers after hearing the decision, reached by the International Cricket Council.

"I can't express my joy in words at this happiest hour of the nation," said Prime Minister and avid cricket fan Sheikh Hasina. "I thank our cricketers who have made it possible."


It is a dream come true... after independence, it's our biggest achievement

Cricket fan Atif Ahmed

Bangladesh - which becomes the world's 10th Test-playing nation - is the first country since Zimbabwe in 1992 to be elevated to the top rank of international cricket.

The decision was taken by the executive committee of the ICC, meeting at Lords in London.

"The ICC has decided that Bangladesh should be elevated from associate to Test match status," new ICC president Malcolm Gray told a news conference.

Watched live

Many cricket fans, as well as players and officials, had gathered at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dkaha to watch live updates from the ICC meeting on a giant screen.

Ashraful Haq, secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, at Lords
Ashraful Haq, secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, at Lords

There were scenes of delight as the news reached the crowd.

"It is a dream come true. After independence, it's our biggest achievement," said college student Atif Ahmed.

Cricket is second only to football in popularity in Bangladesh. Even club matches can attract crowds of up to 40,000.

Resources

The country gained one-day status in 1997 after winning the ICC trophy in Kuala Lumpur.

Bangladesh have played 40 one-day internationals, but won only three of them, and their triumph against Pakistan during last year's World Cup has since been tainted by match-fixing allegations.

Mehrab Hossain
Leading batsman Mehrab Hossain

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the head of the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board, said two teams of ICC inspectors had visited the country before reaching the decision.

"They have satisfied themselves that we have the infrastructure, we have the crowd support, we have the commercial sponsorship," said Mr Chowdhury. "Really it's a huge potential."

He added: "Test cricket has embraced 130 million people to its fold and that is tremendous news for cricket. I know good news is at a premium at the moment and I'm glad Bangladesh has featured in that good news."

Bangladesh wins
Beat Kenya by 6 wickets, May 1998
Beat Scotland by 22 runs, May 1999
Beat Pakistan by 62 runs, May 1999

The celebrations in Bangladesh are expected to last a week, culminating in a grand reception in Dhaka with the prime minister as the chief guest.

Mr Chowdhury said the ICC decision would inspire Bangladesh's cricketers to strive harder towards their goals, including winning the World Cup one day.

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See also:

22 Jun 00 | Cricket
Bangladesh's big Test
24 May 00 | Cricket
Bangladesh set to pass Test
31 May 99 | General News
Bangladesh bow out in glory
25 May 99 | General News
Bangladesh's first triumph
26 Jun 00 | Cricket
Bangladesh pass Test
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