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15 February, 2020 09:50:41 AM
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Winds of change in Bangladesh cricket

BCB likely to implement Hathurusingha’s policy to improve team performance
MD ABU TALHA SARKER, Dhaka
Winds of change in Bangladesh cricket

In a bid to bring about far-reaching changes in Bangladesh cricket, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is going to take up a new mechanism that matches the approach envisioned by former national team head coach Chandika Hathurusingha.During the tenure of the former head coach, Tigers made their meteoric surge in cricket, especially in one-day international. Bangladesh whitewashed India, Pakistan, and South Africa for the first time during his coaching strint. Afghanistan and Zimbabwe were also whitewashed by the Tigers at home.Hathurusingha (2015–2017) put forward a long-term plan to the BCB, requesting the board to promote young and fresh players who would eventually replace senior players. The former head coach tried to omit senior most players from the team as they could not fulfil their potential in Test cricket. His plan sounded revolutionary at that time as Bangladesh had been going through a golden phase at shorter versions of international cricket.

The national team also made significant progress in Test cricket. They won Test matches against Australia and England. Even in unfamiliar seaming conditions in New Zealand, they were in a winning position in a Test match against the hosts. They also fought hard against India on Indian soil and won their 100th Test by beating Sri Lanka on their home yard.

Thanks to Hathurusingha's foresight and astute guidance, Bangladesh played at the quarter-final stage of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia-New Zealand for the first time. They routed England, one of the tournament favourites, on the bouncy and pacer-friendly matches there and met India in the quater final.

The high-voltage match between Bangladesh and India creted a lot of tension among supporters of the two neighbouring country. Supporters of both sides started trolling one another on social media in the aftermath of that match, which India won after a couple of controversial decisions.

After that, Bangladesh went to England for the 2016 ICC Champions Trophy. Despite being placed in the toughest group, they played at the semi-final stage for the first-ever time in their cricket history.

Hathurusingha's coaching method was different from others. He made batsmen play on concrete slabs prior to going on every overseas tour so that they could adjust to bouncing balls.

However, the Sri Lanka-born head coach was very particular about discipline. He became angry when Shakib Al Hasan took a break from the Test series against South Africa. He took the matter to the board's notice and raised the question as to why a key player would take a break from an important Test series, especially at a time while they had started doing well in Test matches, the most challenging version of the game.

In the aftermath of the Shakib fiasco, Hathurusingha planned to remove the old guard from the Test team. His plan was heavily criticised by all at that time. The media came hard on him when the former head coach announced the Test squad by keeping Mominul Haque out.

But paying no attention to criticism, the former head coach planned to sideline Imrul Kayes, Abdur Razzak, Mahmudullah Riyad, and Mominul Haque to gradually inject fresh blood in the team for the long run. He wanted to kick out senior players all one by one as he continued to back junior players like Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Liton Kumar Das, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hasan Miraj, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, and leg-spinner Jubair Hossain Likhon for the future Bangladesh team.

Likhon’s case was different as he gradually went out of the scene by not taking proper care of himself. The board and domestic clubs, however, were reluctant to let him go as they did not want him to waste his talents. Even now, Bangladesh are desperately trying to prop up a leg-spinner to diversify their bowling variation.

Actually, Hathurusingha wanted to give a chance to young players who would be ready to prove themselves in the national team. He saw them as long-term prospects. With his policy, the former head coach made himself umpopular with the board, selectors, players, and the media as well. He faced heavy criticisms from all quarters.

Hathurusingha abruptly decided to leave Bangladesh and joined the Sri Lanka cricket team despite being unwilling to work for his own country. Just six months later, Bangladesh brought English coach Steve Rhodes in view of the 2019 ICC World Cup, but the national team failed to showcase any inspiring performance.

After the unexpected result in World Cup, the board parted with Rhodes through a mutual separation deal and replaced him by South African coach Russell Domingo. So far, Domingo has overseen the national team in four international series, two each at home and aboard. But the Tigers are yet to hit the heights that they did during the Hathurusingha era.

Recently, Bangladesh played two important series against India and Pakistan where they showed the worst possible performance. In light of those performances, the new coach is preparing a new strategy, consulting with the management, board, and selectors.

Following a shocking performance in Pakistan after the India tour, the board itself is now worried and plans to rethink their strategy. Since the last world cup in England and Wales in 2019, Bangladesh has failed to register any impressive performance either at home or abroad.

The performances of senior most players were not up to the mark in those matches. Their inability to perform at the time of need has affected the team. Against this backdrop, the matter of refixing the policy of dropping senior players from the squad and giving chance to eager young cricketers has come to the fore.

Some unpleasant questions are also doing the rounds at this juncture. If the board is going to reshuffle the team, why didn’t they do it two years back when Hathurusingha was at the helm? Who will shoulder the responsibility of this delay? The blame should be on all the parties concerned—the board, the cricketers, the selectors, and last but not least, the media.

As of now, Bangladesh should go for a long-term plan and move forward. The first step is find out a string of potential and talented players and nurse them round the year. Back-up players should be kept ready. And most importantly, it is essential to keep a steady pipeline of the players so that new players could take the responsibility once they get the chance.

The board has to keep all the players busy. Bangladesh ‘A’ team, Under-23 team, high performance Team, and newly coined Under-21, Under-19, Under-16, and Under-14 teams should play regular games at home and abroad.

Quality coaching staff should be appointed at age-level cricket so that young talents can learn skills and techniques of batting, bowling, and fielding from an early age.

There is no alternative to a long-term and sustainable plan to cope with the changed situation of world cricket coupled. Only a long vision and proper execution of policy could bring the national team back on track, the place where we were under the guidance of Chandika Hathurusingha.

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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.

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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