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21 August, 2018 02:59:04 PM
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BCB's High Performance Programme a far cry

Independent Online Desk
BCB's High Performance Programme a far cry

Bangladesh Cricket Board's High Performance (HP) unit is a far cry from what it was meant to be, despite functioning for four years now. The High Performance unit that was formed with the intention of making it the breeding hub for national cricketers can be called a failure if its total count of international cricketers were to be taken into account.

The board relaunched the programme in June 2015 and the decision was welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm, considering the success it had achieved during its opening phase - 2004 to 2007 - under the guidance of Richard McInnes.

Players like Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal are said to be the products of this programme and thus when it was brought back, high hopes were pinned on it.

However, since June 2015, a total of 64 players have been enrolled under the HP program - that runs from June to September - but only Mustafizur Rahman and Mehedi Hasan have made their way into the national team.

During the programme's relaunch, BCB vice-president Mahbub Anam, who is also in charge of the HP unit, had announced that the overall operational budget for the programme had been estimated over 1 million US Dollars.

"HP aims to create the best-prepared players in International Cricket. The programme has been designed in the light of successful models used by various sports teams and its flexibility gives it a contextual acceptance for Bangladesh Cricket." Mahbub had told then, on May 25, 2015.

However, lack of proper management has been identified as one of the major reasons behind the failure. Also, the goal seems to have changed in these years, with the focus shifting from crafting more international cricketers to producing good league players as well.

Several players have been tried on a number of occasions in the HP unit, with opener Sadman Islam finding himself in all the four programmes.

There are several others too who have been tried on three occasions. But while Sadman is yet to make his international debut, the others too have failed to climb the ladder.

When quizzed, contradictory opinions from the think tank proved the lack of clarity vis-a-vis the goal that HP initially strode out to achieve. It is also believed that the presence of HP Unit's coach Simon Helmut on tours alone and not during the practice sessions has dented their plans.

While BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin believes HP is a successful project, BCB game development chairman Khaled Mahmud opines differently.

"We are keeping Sadman as we are preparing him for the longer version,'' Minhajul told Cricbuzz when his attention was drawn regarding the inclusion of the left-hander in the HP unit.

"I think the cricketers of HP are doing well in the domestic circuit and you can consider that to be a success,'' he said.

Mahmud though had a completely different opinion on the same. "First of all I cannot say much because it is under a different management and you need to ask them why it is failing to earn the desired success,'' Mahmud said.

"But I think there is lack of accountability in the programme. It is not formed to develop cricketers for the leagues because the best players of the leagues were selected initially and were supposed to get past the next step to be ready for international cricket.

"It is unfortunate that is not the case in the HP unit and we need to find out some way out to reach our goal.

"Former head coach Chandika Hathurusingha always wanted that players should be made ready in the HP unit so that they can fill the post in the national team whenever it is required," said Mahmud, who had worked in close proximity with Hathurusingha during his tenure.

Current HP head coach Jafrul Ehsan though said that they needed to make sure that they don't invest unnecessarily on someone year after year.

"It is true some of them are selected for quite a few occasions and we must take a good look before selecting the team as investing unnecessarily won't benefit us in the long run,'' said Ehsan, who has been with HP in all the four programmes that have been hosted since being reinstated.

The most common allegation though was said to be the unavailability of Simon Helmut who failed to be present for the residential programmes at the academy premises.

The 2016-17 HP camp at the National Cricket Academy in Mirpur had kicked off without the Australian coach, who had specifically been appointed for the task. Helmot, who joined BCB as the Head Coach of the High Performance programme in 2016 couldn't arrive in time in his first year owing to his commitments at the Caribbean Premier League, but his absence in the subsequent training sessions on a regular basis was baffling, to say the least.

He continued to be in charge though, of the Bangladesh A team, during their series against Sri Lanka followed by the tour of Ireland.

Few BCB officials, on request of anonymity, said that the vacuum at these two spots [HP general manager and NCA director of coaching] has hurt the HP programme quite badly.

"We need to have a manager who will plan our program while our head coach also needs to be accountable to someone like a coaching director,'' said a BCB official. "It is not wise to be available for tours only because that does not help in developing the players that is done in the camp."

Former England batsman Mal Loye was then appointed as the head coach of the HP programme for two years and worked with National Cricket Academy's new director of coaching Paul Terry and General Manager Stuart Karppinen. But after the departure of the trio in quick succession, BCB failed to arrange a proper replacement at the HP.

The lack of matches for the HP squad too has been cited as a big hindrance. The HP squad was supposed to travel to Sri Lanka in September for a series but chances are high that it might get shelved as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is not ready to bear the expenses.

According to sources, BCB has sent a new proposal saying they would bear 50 percent of the expenses. "We are not interested unless it is agreed on a reciprocal basis,'' HP chairman Naimur Rahman confirmed to Cricbuzz.

All the aforementioned reasons aside, the HP programme was also supposed to create world-class facilities for developing physical, technical, tactical and mental skills. Alongside, it was also meant to harness world-class talent identification, development and management systems while providing competition structures and opportunities to enhance the national team's performance.

All of that is mostly unachieved thus far.Cricbuzz.

KK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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