Aminul Islam Bulbul is only the third batsman in Test cricket history to have
scored a century on debut. His 145 against India in November 2000 is the second
highest debut score after Australian Charles Bannermanâ€™s 165 back in 1877. Aminul
started his career as a professional footballer and played premier league during
the golden era of Bangladesh football for Victoria Sporting Club. He was equally
proficient in cricket, a neglected sport in Bangladesh at that time. He used
to play in the Premier Cricket League for Azad Boys. After getting selected
in the ICC Associates XI for the World Youth Cup Cricket Tournament 1988, he
seriously thought about taking cricket as a career. A knee ligament injury suffered
during a professional football match hastened his decision.
He made his One Day International debut for Bangladesh in the Wills Asia Cup
1988 match against India at Chittagong. 11 years later he rose to the helm of
Bangladesh cricket and captained Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup. Bangladeshâ€™s
success in the 1999 world cup paved the way for their Test status. And on their
debut Test agaunst India Aminul labored out a nine hour 145 with an amazing
display of concentration and stroke play. He considers this innnings as the
highest point of his career. Like many other Bangladeshi batsmen, he failed
to build on his promising start and only managed two other 50â€™s in his 13 Test
career. A poor run of form in 2002 saw a premature end to the career of one
of the most polished batsman of Bangladesh Cricket.
After retiring from International Cricket, Aminul went to Australia where he
played district cricket and worked as a coaching staff for the New South Wales
University alongside Geoff Lawson and Michael Slater. After completing a level
2 coaching course in Australia, he returned to Bangladesh in 2006 to help raise
the standard of cricket in Bangladesh. In his first two coaching assignments,
he masterminded Abahani Limited to Premier League glory after a 7 year hiatus
and also led Acme Laboratories to their first ever corporate league title. In
his interview with BanglaCricket editor Khondaker Mirazur Rahman, he revealed
his thoughts about the much needed development of domestic infrastructure, Bangladeshâ€™s
struggle in Test cricket and his willingness to contribute for Bangladesh cricket.
Aminul made history in
the inaugural Test for Bangladesh Â© Cricinfo
BanglaCricket : You are the first Test centurion for Bangladesh
which came in our debut Test match. After that Bangladesh have played 45 Test
matches and managed only 11 more centuries. What is the reason behind such a
Aminul Islam Bulbul: It is really unfortunate that Bangladeshi
batsmen failed to transform their starts into big scores throughout their international
career. I think lack of technique and temperament are the main reasons behind
the inconsistency. Only Habibul Bashar has shown some temperament required for
Test cricket, but others have failed to follow him.
BanglaCricket : Seven years after awarding Test status, Bangladeshi
batsmen are still struggling with technique and temperament. Donâ€™t you think
this was long enough to have overcome the problem?
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Lack of competitive first class structure
is the main reason behind the poor show of our batsmen in the Test arena. Cricket
is a mental game; you need to develop the required skills, determination and
competitiveness from the domestic arena. We are severely lacking in that front.
Until we revamp our domestic system we will continue to struggle in the Test
arena. Moreover, our team is young has a somewhat fragile mindset. They need
a full time sports psychologist to cope with the pressures of international
cricket. Sports psychology is a very important part of modern cricket that we
BanglaCricket : We always hear about lack of proper structure
in our domestic cricket. Can you shed some more light into it?
Aminul Islam Bulbul: When we played domestic cricket back
in 1990â€™s, we had a very competitive limited overs tournament. Players like
Neil Fairbrother, Wasim Akram, and Arjuna Ranatunga regularly played club cricket
in Bangladesh. It helped to raise our quality of cricket in the one day format
and with time we ended up as a good one day team. On the contrary, after gaining
Test status, we failed to develop a competitive first class competition. The
National Cricket League, which is the only 4 day tournament in Bangladesh, is
played in a picnic mood. There is lack of planning, facilities and overall format
of the National Cricket League. This is holding us back. A picnic style first
class cricket can never make players ready for the challenges of Test cricket.
For that very reason, we are not getting quality players from the domestic circuit
and are depending on age group players to carry us forward. This type of stop
gap solution can only ruin the long term prospects of Bangladesh cricket.
Due to the flawed domestic structure, we do not have sufficient number of quality
players in the pipeline. We donâ€™t have a dedicated Academy or A team. We are
sharing players between the two teams and that is not an ideal situation.
BanglaCricket : Why do you think that there is a lack of competitiveness
in the National cricket League format and why are you branding it as picnic
Aminul Islam Bulbul: If you have a close look at the domestic
first class cricket, you will see no players are raised through the regional
system. In fact there is no regional system in place at all. All players are
playing in the Dhaka leagues and national selectors are distributing those players
to the different divisional teams. One player playing for one division this
year might play for another division in the very next season. Nothing is regional
based, and players do not have any commitment for the region they are playing.
It is like playing for the sake of playing as national cricket league participation
is a pre-condition for national selection. They are getting very poor payment
or no payment at all. You cannot expect competitiveness under such conditions.
Regional or first class teams are not grooming any players for the future and
everything is too Dhaka based.
BanglaCricket : Historically Dhaka was the center of Bangladesh
cricket, but players always came from different divisions.
Aminul Islam Bulbul: In the pre-Test era, we had regular local
leagues in most of the districts and a good number of players came from districts
like Chittagong, Mymensingh, Rajshahi and Sylhet. After gaining Test status,
the administrators ignored the local leagues and mostly paid attention to the
international tours and schedules. Unfortunately, after the introduction of
National Cricket League in 2000-01, the local leagues graduallt died down and
now are irregular in most of the districts. Cricket became more and more centralized
to Dhaka; ideally the situation should have been the opposite. For this reason,
the regional teams have no reservoir of players to represent in the National
Cricket League and have to depend on the centrally made selection process.
BanglaCricket : What are your suggestions for improving the
first class cricket structure of Bangladesh?
Aminul Islam Bulbul: BCB must put proper emphasis on the domestic
circuit and not just on the opposite. The cricket development committee should
co-ordinate cricket throughout the country and it has to be decentralized through
regional cricket centres. Bangladesh Cricket Board had a plan of establishing
Regional Cricket Centers even before gaining elite status; we must establish
them with proper facilities without any further delay. These regional centers
will co-ordinate with District Cricket Associations and will ensure regular
local leagues. They will also provide necessary training and facilities to the
local authorities to run the show.
BCB should provide properly trained coaches, physios and trainers for every
first class team.
Each divisional team must have their own age group teams and A teams to make
the players ready for the top level in domestic cricket. In this way, players
will fight for their places in the first class team of the division and will
develop their competitive attitude. I have witnessed this type of first class
system in Australia and England. Even Sri Lanka has a similar system.
One of the major strengths of Bangladesh cricket is school cricket. About one
thousand schools participate in each yearâ€™s school cricket competition. We must
introduce 2 day or 3 day competition for school cricket. It is the perfect level
to develop the temperament for the longer version matches.
BanglaCricket : Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is working
with Cricket Australia to develop the standard of cricket.
Aminul Islam Bulbul: This is an excellent initiative and we
have to make sure that we are getting most out of it. We need more of our coaches
trained by the Australians and we must employ these coaches to work with the
regional teams at the grass root level. We have plenty of players around the
country. We need to work with their techniques and for that we need more quality
coaches that we are severely lacking.
BanglaCricket : Bangladesh is trying to emulate the Australian
Model for the last few years.
Aminul Islam Bulbul: I think it is not ideal for a country
like Bangladesh to follow Australia as a model. We should follow Sri Lanka as
our model. We must take technical input from Cricket Australia but follow Sri
Lanka as a model country.
BanglaCricket : This is something new. Everyone seems to be
happy in following the Australian model. Any specific reasons for your difference
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Definitely the Australian model is the
most ideal model for developing cricket in any country, but we have to keep
in mind that we are a developing country. We can never provide similar infrastructure
and facilities to our youngsters or regional teams. They have very different
physical structure, fitness level, ground facilities and are a big spender on
developing sports. For us it is almost next to impossible to emulate them properly.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka being a sub-continental team share similar economic
strengths, culture and physical structure. They have got a very good domestic
structure which is very well managed with the limited resources they have. They
are doing very well in both formats of the game and I believe it would be ideal
for Bangladesh to follow Sri Lanka as the role model.
BanglaCricket : Batting remains the major concern for Bangladesh
in Tests. How can pur players sort out their batting woes and how can Bangladesh
improve their Test performances?
Aminul Islam Bulbul: We need specialized batting coaches for
the national teams, A teams and age group teams. There are no other alternative
or short cut routes. Players need to work hard in the nets and at the same time
they need proper guidance. BCB is conducting nationwide pacer hunt program,
I think we also need a nationwide batting camp to develop the required batting
skills at the grass root level. One more thing, I strongly feel we should conduct
a nationwide spinner hunt program to increase the variety of our bowling. We
have too many slow left arm bowlers but no right hand off-spinners or leg spinners.
Without quality off spinners or leg spinnesr, it will be difficult for us to
become competitive in the Test arena.
However, to develop batting skills, a major overhaul is needed in the domestic
wicket types. Keeping the natural sub-continental wickets in some first class
venues, BCB must prepare some sporting wickets which will offer pace and bounce.
Only then players will be exposed to different level of challenges and will
be able to acclimatize to different conditions.
BCB have made an excellent decision by forming a national cricket academy.
A good number of batsmen playing for academy have got a better temperament for
longer version matches and will help to consolidate Bangladeshâ€™s Test batting
BanglaCricket : The Bangladesh team has too many youngsters
and the senior players like Habibul Bashar, Khaled Mashud or Mohammad Rafique
are on the verge of retirement. Do you think it is an ideal situation for a
developing cricket country like Bangladesh?
Aminul Islam Bulbul: We can look into the matter in two ways.
While young attacking players can be a blessing in the ODI team, the same cannot
be said for the Test team. There is no alternative to experienced players in
Test cricket. We have a â€œlost generationâ€ of cricketers who should be given
another opportunity to prove their mettle in the international arena. Players
like Hannan Sarker, Al Shahriar and Alok Kapali should be given sufficient opportunity
before dumping them out permanently. They are all exciting players and consistent
performers in domestic cricket. If they have any specific weaknesses, BCB should
work with them to sort that out. They can be really handy in Test matches and
have a lot of cricket left in them.
BanglaCricket : Your comment about Dav Whatmore's tenure as
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Dav is my very good friend for the last
20 years. He is a sincere and dedicated coach. We have definitely progressed
during his 4 years tenure but the development as a team was not very significant.
He failed to sort out our weaknesses in Test cricket and paid more emphasize
on One-Day cricket.
BanglaCricket : Recently Bangladesh handed the captaincy to
Mohammad Ashraful and he is leading Bangladesh in Sri Lanka.
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Mohammad Ashraful is a performer captain
and BCB made a very good decision by selecting him. He is a gutsy young boy
and I believe he can take Bangladesh to a new heights. I am wishing him good
luck in his first assignment, which is a difficult one, and I believe Bangladesh
will do much better in Sri Lanka. Ashraful should play for wins and I think
we will be able to draw at least one Test.
BanglaCricket : What is your future plan and what can you
offer to develop the standard of cricket in Bangladesh?
Aminul Islam Bulbul : I returned to Bangladesh in 2006 to
serve my country. I have completed a level 2 coaching course from Australia
and worked with the New South Wales University team as a coaching staff. I felt
Bangladesh cricket needs a person like me while Australia has a sufficient number
of trained personnel to work with their cricket. That was the main motivation
for my return to Bangladesh. I applied to BCB to work in any suitable position
with age group teams, the academy team or the national team. I have specialized
myself in batting and leg spin coaching, I am very keen to work but I havenâ€™t
yet heard anything official from the BCB. I have guided Abahani Limited to the
Premier League Championship in my first big assignment as coach. Cricket is
my life and I have to earn my livelihood through it. Now after 14 months I am
looking for some overseas job. Bangladesh cricket will always remain as my priority
and whenever BCB feels I can contribute in any capacity, I will be ready to
serve my country.
BanglaCricket : Last question to you. Have you heard about
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Yes, off course. I used to visit BanglaCricket
regularly when I was in Australia.
BanglaCricket : Thank you very much for your valuable time
and thoughts about Bangladesh cricket.
Aminul Islam Bulbul: Thank you.