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Our Middle Order (2007)
A BanglaCricket Exclusive: The Mirpur Stadium (2006)
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BanglaCricket Article

Masum Billah pleads for a specialist batting coach, but not before raising some probing questions about Bangladesh batting and answering them himself with statistics, and the occasional rhetoric.

A plea with the BCB

Published: 26th September, 2005

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Have we ever won a match where our batsmen failed?

Bangladesh has never won a low-scoring match, ODI or Test. As a matter of fact, in all of our wins, we had to bat reasonably well. Examples:

Against 1st innings 2nd innings Result
Zimbabwe 488 204/9d Win
West Indies 416 271/9d Draw
Test Matches only

Against Year Score Chasing
Kenya 1998 237/4 Yes
Pakistan 1999 223/9 No
Zimbabwe 2003 238/7 No
India 2004 229/9 No
Zimbabwe 2005 244/9 No
Zimbabwe 2005 247/9 No
Zimbabwe 2005 202/2 Yes
Australia 2005 250/5 Yes
ODI wins except vs. Scotland & Hong Kong

Where is the improvement in batting? Has batting been, for the most part, the number one reason for our poor performance?

Alternately, in almost all of our losses, either our batting completely collapsed, or we batted poorly. In our 103 ODI losses, we averaged 168 runs, compared to 234 average on the wins. Only 33 times of the 103 we batted the full 50 overs. Even in the 38 lost and drawn tests, we batted less than 70 overs a staggering 45 times. We scored less than 200 in an innings also in an equal 45 times. Here?s our test batting in a nutshell: first collapse in the second innings of the first test (against India) for 91, to the latest collapse being the recent all time low of 86 against Sri Lanka, also in the second innings.

Has Dav?s ability as a batting coach ever been tested before Bangladesh?

We have Dav Whatmore as our coach. The man has coached world champions. He turned a mid-tier team to a top-tier one. One point to ponder here: The team Sri Lanka that Dav coached already had batsmen of legendary reputation. Starting from Duleep Mendis, Mahanama to Ranatunga, De Silva to the marauding Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka has always been blessed with gifted hitters. We still do not have one single batsman in our whole Test Cap club of such repute. Sri Lankan test batsmen's batting average in all tests is 31.3 versus our 20.4.

Through Dav Whatmore, our cricket history gets a unique cross-reference with that of Sri Lanka. It is safe to say that Dav never had to face this challenge of dealing with extremely poor batting during his whole tenure with Sri Lanka.

Do we need a long-term, specialized high-profile batting coach?

Specialist batting coach wanted

Specialist batting coach wanted

The loyal fans of Bangladesh cricket know this: Our cricket had moved ahead a generation during the time of Mr. Grinidge, who was a prolific batsman himself. Since then, we have had Eddy Barlow, the infamous pair of Kamal & Zia and the troubled tenure of Trevor Chappel. Each, by his own claim, has contributed to the development of our cricket. Mr. Whatmore takes over, shows us what it feels like to win a few. In comes a talented Richard McInnes, shows us how to breed future players. Dav also had the help of a few good physiotherapists with sound knowledge of biomechanics. In short, this is our recent coaching history. This history is being marred with our myriad batting failures. Just one problem is dogging us year after year more than any other.

In light of the above, it is reasonable to ask for the help of a high profile performer as our batting coach. When we started our Test journey, it was our bowling department that was perceived to be the weak link. Well, the bowlers have pleasantly surprised us on many occasions. They have done wonders in defending meager totals, in taking wickets, in improvements of their statistics and in showing a fighting spirit. Our fielding also has improved overall. The fitness situation of our players is noticeably better than before. The batting has not kept pace with improvements in other department. As a matter of fact, it remains below par, stagnant even.

Is Cricket played with a bat, for the most part? (rhetorical, don?t answer that)

To those of you who have played cricket, padded up, picked up the bat and made the long walk to the middle, you know the feeling. You are at the center of all attention. At least fifty pairs of eyes, half of them hostile, are watching you with the concentration of a neurologist performing brain surgery. Then there are the fans, commentators and spectators. You ARE the show. If you do well, there is something for the fans there, regardless of their loyalty base. You are the hero, the center of all hope, the protagonist for your team and the nemesis of your opponents.

Does a batsman need to be technically sound?

I remember watching the crucial ICC semifinal match between Bangladesh and Scotland in 1997. Bangladesh was 98 for 2 at the 24th over. Aminul just hit a sixer and the commentator, Harsha Bhogle said that Aminul was the only Bangladeshi batsman that reminded him of Javed Miandad. Aminul was frequently praised for his application of techniques. Today, commentators get shocked at the way Ashraful negotiates Murali, with no attention to or application of skill at all.

Where is the insatiable appetite for runs?

What makes the world?s most prolific hitter Brian Lara hang around in an increasingly meaningless test and declare after a chanceless 400 not out? Sound batting judgment? Hitting ability? Scoring ability? Footwork? Hand-eye coordination? What gives him the drive? Needs of the team? Concentration? What made boy Tendulkar score 600+ runs in school cricket? What drove him to hitch rides on the back of his coach?s motorcycle, traveling from match to match on a single day, just to bat? It?s the drive for the runs, the score, the numbers that matter most in a match.

Can a high performing batsman-coach provide the essential missing ingredients?

Well, we have quality pacers in Masrafee, Tapash, Talha, Rassel, Shahadat and Nazmul. Rafiq is in a class of his own. We also have match winners in Rana, Enamul and Rajjak Raj. A bunch of quickies are up and coming thanks to nationwide ?Pacer Hunt? and regular training in pace academies. But where is our up and coming group of reliable run scorers?

A specialized batting coach can bring something to the table that Dav cannot. For instance, wishful thinking here: Steve Waugh. He can help the batsmen with his fighting mindframe, application, patience, his skill in building and rebuilding an innings. These are the exact areas of problems the fans, commentators, coaches and critics are talking about for years.

It is true that not everyone can benefit from a specialized batting coaching from a proven performer. The old guards such as Bashar, Javed or Pilot probably won?t learn much more about batting at this stage of their career. But then again, they are not the source of our problem, are they? Actually, you wouldn?t mind going in to bat with 11 Bashars or 11 Pilots, would you?

We?ve beaten the best in the game. Our cricketing infrastructure is world class. Our domestic cricket is finally seeing corporate sponsors and regularity. We are improving in every facet of the game except for one.

The fighting ability, the toughness, the cunning in building an innings, the temperament, the technical knowledge ? these are the missing ingredients. This is where a professional batsman can share his experience and wisdom with our players.

What would batting consistency give us?

If we can score an average of 250 runs per innings in tests, it would be a very big improvement regardless of the end result. This is not a lot to ask of a test team. But for us, this would be a daunting challenge, given our current level of batting. Such is this batting enigma for us at present. If we can attain this goal however, it will significantly reduce the margin of our losses. It will teach our batters to practice in building an innings. Wins will become more & more likely. The fans will be reasonably happy. The critics will shut up. Eventually we will have consistency in batting and thus in our overall performance. This will rightfully establish us among the top cricketing nations.

So, what is Steve Waugh doing these days? Ok ok, but Saurav should start looking into a second career, shouldn?t he? He even speaks Bangla. No, seriously, do something. We need a batting coach.

 

About the author(s): Besides authoring witty and informative articles on Bangladesh cricket, Masum Billah contributes and shares much more of his insights on our forums, where he goes by the nick "billah".

 

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