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Game plan (2004)

 
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I want to start by the statement made by Habibul Bashar quoted in a recent Rabeed Imam article. "The pressure is too much in Dhaka. Everyone it seems has attained the right to criticise us." Rightfully, everyone is entitled to criticise because this is the national team we are talking about and Bashar should accept it as part of the package, when he put on the red and green shirt representing the Tigers.

Game plan

Published: 19th November, 2004

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I want to start by the statement made by Habibul Bashar quoted in a recent Rabeed Imam article. "The pressure is too much in Dhaka. Everyone it seems has attained the right to criticise us." Rightfully, everyone is entitled to criticise because this is the national team we are talking about and Bashar should accept it as part of the package, when he put on the red and green shirt representing the Tigers.

For the same reason, every other player in the team should accept the ample criticism as part of their job. Now having that out of my system, the point I am interested in discussing is whether the current Bangladesh cricket team has the meat to compete with the international teams that are forces in world cricket. Despite the canter from international media to put everything down, I say current Bangladesh team has the ability to compete with the best. They have proved that at least twice, once in Pakistan and the next in West Indies in the past one year.

The hunt for the silver bullet is perhaps a myth to rectify what seems to be a perpetual slump for the team. Reasons for failure have been sighted from lack of confidence, poor batting techniques and of course lack of a proper domestic league. The later two reasons cannot bear results immediately if the problems were to be addressed tomorrow or even beginning of the new year. The clich? goes that one cannot teach the old dog new tricks, yet a well trained dog can be quite an asset. Needless to say, we can perhaps hang to our patience and expect that our batsmen would eventually reconcile their techniques and I believe that they will achieve that.

Meanwhile, we can always hope for a Brian Lara or a Tendulkar to pop up suddenly. If we can do an objective analysis for every match and perform a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) effectively on ourselves and on the opponent we can find tactical solution for each game and hence come up with a game plan. For each game we can also perform the same analysis on individual basis. To elaborate my concept following is an example for the reader:

SWOT for team Bangladesh

Strength:

  1. Sharp fielding
  2. Competitive pace trio (i.e. Mashrafe, Nazmul, Tapash)
  3. Competitive spinners (i.e. Rafiq, Rana, Raj)
  4. Good lower order support

Weakness:

  1. Poor top order
  2. Fragile middle order
  3. Inability to play moving balls

Opportunity:

This analysis should be done more in line with each team we face. The analysis should focus on conditions in the opponent team that can be exploited. For example, current India team has only two outstanding pace bowlers in the forms of Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan. Injury of one provides options for India to play with Ashish Nehra or Ajit Agarkar. From a strictly pace bowling point of view reduction in their strength reduces that gap of pace attack between us and them. The analogy could perhaps be best described in comparison to a battleground where strength of artillery is often measured by generals to identify tactics.

Performing an opportunity analysis helps team captains (and coaches) identify the options to use. There are other more sophisticated techniques used such as decision tree analysis. Identifying opportunity enhances a person's thinking skills in and outside of a game.

Threat:

Threat analysis is almost similar in nature as opportunity analysis. Simple threat analysis should include: identifying threats that potentially may come with the tactics that is implemented. For example, current Bangladesh team is struggling with batting and hence the pitch may be prepared as a flat one to give the batsmen an opportunity to score runs. This may prove counter productive, as Indian team may exploit this condition as an opportunity as they have an excellent batting line-up. Besides, every other person in the team is a potential spin bowler. The purpose of threat analysis should be to identify a mitigation plan. The counter example could be that a bouncy and grassy pitch could potentially make batsmen like Virender Sehwag explosive. He has perfect record to back that claim in his trip to Australia.

As a team, perhaps Bangladesh goes out in the field with broader objectives as to extend the test games to the length of 5 days or bowl out the opponent. These are very vague goals and really do not define much in between while the game is on. Bangladesh should approach a game on the merit of the circumstance in a game at given point in time. Simply put, they should perhaps use an assessment every half-hour or so. Even if Bangladesh does a simple SWOT and gets into the habit of thinking the process of tactical thinking of measuring opportunity and threat every minute of the game, it would make the team more competitive and perhaps extract a win. Coach Whatmore and captain Bashar should look into such tools.


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

 

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