Both, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza and New Zealand coach Gary Stead, in their end of series press conferences, mentioned that there were lessons their team needed to learn. However, both were careful not to give too much away about what those lessons actually were.
Here are some suggestions of what those lessons might have been.
Lesson for Bangladesh's new ball bowlers: You need to aim at the stumps more often.
In the India series, New Zealand batsmen really struggled with the lack of room they were given. India bowled quite full and very straight. A huge proportion of the deliveries that they bowled would have gone on to hit the stumps. Bangladesh, however, hardly bowled a single delivery that would have gone on to hit the stumps.
In the first 10 overs of the first two matches, only two deliveries bowled to Martin Guptill would have rattled the woodwork. In providing him room, Bangladesh allowed him to play himself in, with devastating consequences.
Lesson for New Zealand's opening batsmen: Take the pressure off Williamson and Taylor.
In the second match, Kane Williamson looked totally out of touch early on, but after about 30 balls he suddenly found his timing and was able to dominate the rest of the innings.
In the third match when Taylor came in he was quite slow to start, scoring only 9 off his first 23 balls. However, his 50 came up in only 60 balls. After his slow start he scored at a strike rate of 110. Taylor was only allowed to play himself in because of the lack of pressure.
In the India series, Williamson and Taylor were in early and seemed to feel they had to play their shots before they were ready. As a result, they weren’t as successful.
Lesson for Bangladesh’s spin bowlers: Bowling quick may save runs but doesn’t get many wickets. The Bangladesh spin bowlers bowled noticeably faster through the air than the New Zealand or the Indian spin bowlers. While that led to bowling a few cheap overs early on, ultimately Bangladesh’s spinners were almost as ineffective on New Zealand turfs as Sri Lanka’s had been. The batsmen soon adapted and cashed in. Indian and New Zealand spinners, however, managed to regularly pick up wickets and as a result, the scoring rate took care of itself. By slowing the ball down on New Zealand pitches, they gave themselves the opportunity to beat the batsmen in the air.
While some English pitches take spin, particularly Taunton and Old Trafford, most of them are similar to the New Zealand pitches. Practicing bowling slower might be effective preparation.
Lesson for New Zealand’s fielders: Don’t drop your standards. In the series between New Zealand and Pakistan in the UAE, one of the most commented-on aspects was the quality of New Zealand’s fielding. But there seems to have been a steady decline in that quality as the season has worn on. New Zealand has dropped the ball (literally). At least seven dropped catches. At least four missed run-outs. Balls going between fielders’ legs and fumbled in the outfield… add some fun music and you’d have a hit comedy video.
A friend of mine told me he only visited bakeries that were close to lawyer’s offices. He said that lawyers would always complain if they got bad food; so the bakeries nearest the lawyer’s offices would never let their standards slip. Bangladesh didn’t punish New Zealand for its mistakes but other teams would. Semi-final positions in the World Cup may well be decided by net run-rate. A more clinical fielding performance could be the difference between an early exit and glory.
Lesson for Bangladesh’s top-order batsmen: It’s much easier to play dashing strokes while you’re still in the middle.
The most dramatic and spectacular shots in the series were almost all played by Bangladeshi batsmen. Scintillating cover drives, delicate late cuts and glorious hooks and pulls. There just wasn’t enough in-between. Some of the wickets came from good bowling but too many came from the batsmen being too ambitious too soon. A popular saying amongst batsmen at the moment is that you need to ‘go through the gears’. Bangladesh’s batsmen were guilty of trying to start off in fourth. They need to decide on one or two shots they can play early on, with low risk, and wait until they’re established at the crease before adding other shots.
The first four wickets, combined, in all three matches, contributed only 163 runs for Bangladesh. They just won’t win many matches if they keep relying on the bowlers to score the runs.
Learning these lessons will allow both New Zealand and Bangladesh to be more successful in the upcoming World Cup.