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Massive Overhaul (2004)

 
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Two heavy innings defeats in two successive Test matches! One must agree that the prospect for Bangladesh looks pretty ugly. Even the home crowd has appeared started to turn against our team. Tongues have started wagging at various quarters about our dismal performances. The chop and change of the team line-up by national selectors and the sunny optimism of Dav Whatmore is no longer helping and can no longer wash away the reality: We are in deep trouble.

Massive Overhaul

Published: 31st October, 2004

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Two heavy innings defeats in two successive Test matches! One must agree that the prospect for Bangladesh looks pretty ugly. Even the home crowd has appeared started to turn against our team. Tongues have started wagging at various quarters about our dismal performances. The chop and change of the team line-up by national selectors and the sunny optimism of Dav Whatmore is no longer helping and can no longer wash away the reality: WE ARE IN DEEP TROUBLE.

Having acknowledged that, instead of brooding on what has happened or what could have happened, let us start looking to the future. Let us think about how we can turn our misfortunes around, because at the moment it doesn't look like anything is working. If no remedial action is taken immediately, we have no where else to go but down!

As supporters of Bangladesh cricket, we cringe at the slightest criticism of our team, no matter how justifiable that is. Yet, there has not been enough steps taken to radically change the fate of our cricket. We are still lingering at the bottom of every cricketing table and continue to be the whipping boys of world cricket (except maybe for the present woeful Zimbabwe). We need to radically overhaul our entire cricket system, including the technique of our players and their mindset, the cricketing infrastructure and the planning/decisions by BCB.

From this point of view I would like to suggest several proposals that I think is worth considering. Hopefully the BCB and their advisory committee will take note, wake up and do something about it soon and fast, because sooner than later questions would be asked about the reasons behind the present dismal performance and what steps (both present and future) have they taken to elevate the cricketing standard in Bangladesh.

Get rid of 20/20 Cricket

IT IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. We need to promote longer the version of the game if we want to compete with the best. Our board must not be swayed by money but rather must think about the future of cricket in Bangladesh. ODI is well-equipped to provide pinch-hitters, we do not really need 20/20 competition for that purpose (as some tend to believe). The board may have been swayed by the universal experiment with 20/20. Yet, we need to keep it in mind that we cannot indulge in this sort of scheme like Australia or England. They already enjoy a fantastic domestic structure. Their only purpose in launching 20/20 is to draw in the crowd. The situation is reverse in Bangladesh. If our team is performing well, then we are never short of a crowd at our matches.

I still remember the day (a couple of years ago) when we faced Pakistan at Dhaka stadium in ODI and the stadium was packed with people baking under sweltering heat (it was also Ramadan time). When an ODI can provide the requisite excitement, why bother with a newer version which would not be beneficial for our cricket? The need for longer versions of the game, the need for our players to develop ability to bat for a long time.....these things cannot be stressed enough regarding their importance.

ODI is fine, but unless a player has maturity, he is going nowhere. Anyone can flash at a ball (even I can, considering I have very little cricketing pedigree) but it is the intelligent batting for long periods and bowling that wins the game, a very good example is the New Zealand batting in the recent Test series.

Make a number touring teams

The BCB needs to make a number of A and B teams such as BCB XI, BKSP
X1, BCB A, BCB B etc. The board needs to put all national pool players in these teams together with new and upcoming players. The national players need to get rid of their egos and must have the mindset to play along with the lesser players and play in these second-string teams. These teams need to travel overseas to play against English county and Ranji trophy teams.

It does not matter if each team has 7/8 national players, we just need to send them to play against top state teams. Unless they acclimatize themselves to different situations, different playing conditions and get experience, they will be the whipping boys of world cricket forever. This may also serve another purpose. We are all aware that Bangladesh will be put into a modified ICC scheme shortly where our lion share of matches will be held at home. If, and that is a big if, we are able to win matches against these overseas top notch state teams on a regular basis, then we can put our case with ICC of elevating our status to playing home and abroad with equal emphasis.

Someone needs to get our batting right

We need to look at the basic shot selection and how to play at each ball on its merit. These things should be taught at the very childhood (as is done in Australia and other top notch countries). My 9 year old nephew has been selected for NSW under-10 cricket team and I am amazed at how these kids are being groomed to become the next Michael Clarke (who came through the same system). Actually during the induction ceremony into the team held last month, these kids were inspired by the organizing body by saying that maybe somewhere in that room was another Michael Clarke. It was really thrilling to watch the dreamy look in their eyes.

Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, our cricket starts at the "para" level void of any formal training. Since we don't have such an infrastructure yet, we have to work with what we have. And this is where our players have to chip in individually. They need to ask themselves (with some professional guidance) how to play inswingers, outswingers, full pitched, angling in deliveries etc. , when to play a straight bat shot, when to hook and pull etc. They need to work on their footwork. I know that at their age, this may prove to be very very difficult, if not impossible. But they have to try, even if it means they have to spend 7/8 hours in the nets everyday practicing basic, correct and modified stroke making. As has almost universally been agreed here in banglacricket, our batsmen don't have any technique whatsoever. So someone should help the batsmen get their technique right. That someone needs to be employed on a long-term basis, not for short batting workshops or on a one year contract. Our batsmen need to learn basic shot selection and batting. In my honest opinion, there is no other alternative.

We need to improve our training facilities

We need to get an indoor facility with roof so that rain or shine, our players can practice before a match (don't just rely on BKSP). How many times have our players failed to have a decent warm-up net session before a match because of rain? Construction of such a facility should commence immediately.

The board should also invest into preparing new pitches. They need to get some foreign curator and change every single pitch in Bangladesh. It is better if the Chittagang pitch were prepared as spin friendly while the Mirpur pitch was made fast and bouncy. We can no longer afford to play on dead pitches where the average ball only comes as high as the hip area. Unless we prepare fast and bouncy pitches, our players will always be suspect against fast bowling (as we are at the moment). With all the money invested in Bangladesh cricket, how difficult is it to prepare a truly world class fast pitch/pitches in Bangladesh? Is it lack of interest, lack of vision or just pure indifference?

Give Bashar Captaincy Lessons

Finally, the board should seriously think about giving lessons about captaincy to Bashar, provided that he is the preferred long term captain. He needs to sharpen his understanding of the game and be wily. At the moment, he is just flowing with the motion. Pilot on the other hand is a better captain than Bashar, yet I feel that Bashar is the ultimate choice. So someone needs to groom him. They either need to make him read books or give him 1/2 hour lessons about field placement, weaknesses of opponent players and how to exploit them in the field (bowling, field placement etc.). Bashar needs to convince himself that he WANTS this captaincy, and not because he is relatively young and is the preferred choice of the selectors. With the media watching his every move, it is not good if he is found wanting in his field
placement and bowling changes. The BCB should help him in this regard. If we look at the Australians in the 3rd test, they virtually stifled run scoring ability of Dravid and Tendulkar by fielding in areas they are likely to score. If BCB can help Bashar in areas like this, he will definitely improve. But the board needs to put some serious thought into it.

Final thoughts

In short, its time we looked at these issues. Unless we arrange our own backyard, we cannot expect the visitors to give us any respect. Top cricketing countries think first about whitewashing us and then think about not being complacent. How disgraceful! There is a wise saying: "Fortune favours the brave". If we don't take initiative to change our cricketing destiny and overhaul our entire cricketing system, we will be thrashed over and over again and history would witness the slow death of cricket in Bangladesh.


The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "AussieBloke" - editors

 

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