Tigers have never looked so good in years. Not only because of performance but also in terms of positive marks, the Tigers have an increasing slope of progress. We have world-class players like Habibul and Rafique, gifted batsmen like Ashraful and Alok, and painstaking stroke makers like Rajin and Manjarul Rana. Not only that, there are several potential players knocking on the door of the national team. For the first time ever, the selection board is having the problem of abundance instead of the problem of scarcity. Nevertheless, there are three main problem areas pulling us back. Here is a discussion and possible solutions to these dilemmas.
Once there happened to be a child who started to count from 2, 3, 4 and so on. The secret was revealed when he went on counting 10, J, Q and K. For a completely different reason, we have learned to count from two as well. For our team, it is almost a given fact that we will loose a wicket at the very beginning of the game and then will have to start counting on from the second wicket. When the rest of the world are taking advantage of the first fifteen restricted overs, we are having a real hard time finding an opening pair that can survive the new ball in the first few overs. It is interesting to see that there are more applicants for these two positions than for any other position in the team. Starting from the experienced Javed Omar, who carried the bat on his debut match, this list goes to the youngster Nafis with Hannan, Shahrier Hossain and even Manjarul Rana in between. However, the problem is not yet solved. One thing to notice here is that while they are all quality openers individually, none of them was ever actually able to build up partnership that worked. We have reasons to believe that Rana can be a quality opener if given appropriate training and opportunities. It could be a good idea to choose the other half of the pair from one of Javed Omar, Hannan and Shahrier. After a few experiments in practice or domestic matches, we should keep this pair intact. Not giving enough chances could be a reason why we don?t get a steady opening pair. Nafis stays one step behind in this race mainly because of his age. We should work on him targeting the 2007 World Cup.
While the first problem is at the beginning, the second is at the end. Not having quality pacers is another huge problem for our team. What are the differences between us and the Indian or Sri Lankans? We have pretty much the same physique but why don?t we have pacers while they always seem to have enough? Maybe we do, but we just don?t know of them. A previous camp by the BCB brought in Masri. Now the BCB is conducting these camps again. We hope to find at least one more. When Murtaza comes back from injury, half of the problem will be solved, but we don?t know how long we might have to wait for the other half. Shahadat?s unimpressive performance in the A team proves that he is not yet ready and leads us to the pessimistic thinking of whether he will ever be ready. There are already lots of hopes built around him, but we must not forget that he has never faced a speed gun nor had had any impressive performances at the senior level. I will be glad to be proven wrong, but until then we have to keep looking.
After the 2003 WC disaster, a great decision of assigning Dav Whatmore as the national coach was taken. There was another decision taken that was of the same magnitude but of opposite impact. This decision was assigning an ex-army man with zero cricket knowledge as the manager of the team. The immaturity of this decision was not that obvious until the Rafique incident on the eve of final match against Zimbabwe. So far the team had been deprived only from the advantages a good manager provides. But on this occasion, the poor army style handling of the accident cost us severely from many aspects. Not only were we deprived from a maiden series win at the international level; it also harmed the integrity of the team. This manager needs to be changed before the WI tour and a former cricketer should be assigned. The new selection board is a burning display of how much difference a person with cricket knowledge can make. Akram Khan worked as the U19 manager for a while. He can be assigned as the manager. There are several others who can also do a splendid job. Let the cricket team be made up of cricketers.