On a winter morning on 10th November 2000, the cricket world witnessed the birth of a new baby in Test arena. The Tigers began their cricket journey with much hope and even showed promise here and there. However, after 7 years of Test-hood, Bangladesh has failed to establish itself in this arena. Players have been tried and discarded. Coaches have come and gone as have the regimes behind that but consistency remains an elusive "à¦¸à§‹à¦¨à¦¾à¦° à¦¹à¦°à¦¿à¦£". It has become evident that we need to address the problem at the root and re-think about our cricket structure. The poor performance in the recent tour of Bangladesh in Sri Lanka clearly further strengthens the need for reconciliation and reformatting the cricketing infrastructure of Bangladesh.
Is Sri Lanka the way to
Bangladesh, since their inception into Test cricket, has tried to emulate Australian
model with limited success in the ODI format and without much success at all
in the longer version of cricket. It is not any structural flaw within the Australian
model which is to blame, rather it is an issue of "fitting the model" into a
Bangladeshi context. A model can only be successfully adopted if it covers the
socio-economic aspects and different indigenous conditions inherent to that
particular region; in this case the sub-continent. Among the three sub-continent
giants, Sri Lanka is probably in closest similarity with Bangladesh considering
available resources and presence at the highest level of cricket. After reviewing
the cricketing structure of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, I am even more certain
that Sri Lankan model can be successfully implemented in Bangladesh in order
to raise our standards.
There is a good reason behind choosing Sri Lanka as our role model. After getting
their Test status in 1982, they became a good team without much delay and won
their first world cup in 1996. Proper planning and its right implementation
helped them establish themselves within cricket's elites. As developing countries
from the sub-continent, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have a lot of similarities
in social, economical, political and other local factors including conditions.
So it is well worthwhile to take a look at the Sri Lankan model and to gauge
the possibility of implementing it in developing Bangladesh cricket.
Cricket : Sri Lanka Model - At a glance
Domestic Structure: Cricket Sri Lanka runs the domestic show with the help
of 5 provincial and 22 district cricket associations. Each regional center has
adequate coaching and other cricketing facilities to support the district associations.
This de-centralization greatly helped Sri Lanka in finding talents throughout
the country and maintain competitivenesses within the first class structure.
For example, opener Upul Tharanga is from the remote coastal region and Murali
Muratharan is from hill country.
Sri Lanka has two first class tournaments. Premier League tournament involving
16 cricket clubs. The other first class tournament, Inter-Provincial First Class
Tournament includes five provinces in the competition. The List A tournament
and the Twenty20 competition involve all the premier cricket clubs.
An excellent 2 days under-23 domestic tournament and an attractive inter-school
cricket tournament are something unique to Sri Lanka and helps them find and
nurture young raw talents. Longer version game from the very beginning helps
youngsters to learn proper techniques to compete at the top level.
Youth Development: Sri Lanka Cricket runs a series of youth tournaments.
There is an Inter-District Tournament at three different age groups; Under-14,
Under-16 and Under-19 -- in which 25 districts participate each year. The best
players from this tournament are selected for provincial age group teams and
eventually the creams of these provincial teams make the age group national
The Sony Max Cricket Academy, a fully-equipped training center with high-quality
turf nets, a gymnasium, seminar rooms and a dormitory for the players, provides
an ideal learning environment for promising young players. Academy cricketers,
who must be between 18 to 23 years, are selected by the national selectors.
Cricketers for national pool: Sri Lanka rarely draws ("fast-track" like
Bangladesh does) players from age group cricket for the national team without
proper grooming through A team. Cricketers showing great potentials are selected
from the academy and age group teams to represent national A team. It's the
A team which serves as the bridge between domestic and international cricket.
In addition to these, Sri Lanka cricket has a separate national "Fast Bowlers
Unit" and "Spin Bowlers Unit". Both units are for upcoming youngsters and each
squad includes 20-24 bowlers aged from approximately 17-21 years old.
Sri Lanka has a dedicated system to educate local coaches and re-locate them
to regional and district associations to maintain high standard of domestic
cricket. Above all, in order to assure efficiency and transparency, Cricket
Sri Lanka has in place quality assurance programs which include a 5 year plan
followed by quarterly review and auditing system.
Proposed Model for Bangladesh
De-Centralization of Cricket: Till now, our cricket has tended to be
centered on Dhaka though even though some of our best players (Mashrafee, Aftab
for example) hail from the other districts. We need to de-centralize cricketing
activities and spread them to the every corner of the country in order to bring
through enough quality players. We need to establish fully functional cricket
associations for each division. Our current district cricket associations should
be made stronger and tasked with and held accountable for more productive activities
beyond the occasional limited overs tournament.
Youth Development: At present, our regional cricket associations do
not have full time coaches. Recently BCB decided to provide full time coaches
to divisional teams which is a good move. They need to move further by providing
full time coaches to district associations. Every regional cricket association
needs to have a separate cricket training center attached with it which will
run with the help of full time coaches. Each such center should have sufficient
number of natural practice turfs and a separate cricket gym. Indoor nets with
bowling machines in each of these centers will be a big boost as players can
continue their practice in the rainy season.
Age group championship in three groups (U-15, U-17 and U-19), involving the
district teams, would give the young players enough exposure before coming to
first class level. The players sorted out from this tournament can participate
in an age group championship involving divisional teams.
Strengthening Domestic Competitions: Our domestic cricket competitions
are too weak to produce enough quality players. The only first class cricket
tournament in the country, NCL, needs to be reformatted. At present, our players
have opportunity of playing at most 8-10 first class matches in a season which
is really not satisfactory. The number should be increased at least to double.
Each divisional association should arrange a separate tournament involving
the district teams under it. The top players from this tournament will form
the divisional teams which would participate in the NCL. The quality of the
wickets in the domestic level is really poor. BCB needs to provide quality curators
to the regional associations in order to ensure that the players get enough
experience of playing on the fast bouncy sporting wickets in regional level.
Cricket clubs always played a vital role in development of cricket in this
country just like Sri Lanka and they should not be left out of the future. BCB
should introduce another first class tournament involving the top 10 cricket
clubs. As these clubs have enough patrons, they will be able to bring quality
foreign players making the first class tournament competitive and tough.
Cricket Academy: BCB has already started a cricket academy which is
playing a vital role in nurturing the young talents. This is important that
the academy gets its own practice ground along with separate gym and other infrastructural
supports. BCB should take a long term plan to establish separate cricket academies
for each of the divisional cricket associations. Digital libraries of useful
footage and software will aid the players in practice and understanding the
Coaching and Curator Training Academy: BCB needs to establish a coaching
and curator training academy. This will be a major step towards the right direction.
Our country needs a large influx of qualified coaches along with quality curators
to ensure that the course is set towards the right direction.
Bowling Academy: Cricket has been able to get attention of the corporate
world in our country. BCB should go for seeking investment to establish a bowling
academy which would have two separate units; one for fast bowling and another
for spin bowling. Top level coaches should be hired to work with raw talented
Focus on Age Group and A teams: Our age group teams are almost as good
other top cricketing nations. But at national level, most of the time, we even
fail to be competitive. This is because of the reason that there is a missing
link between age group and international cricket in our country in terms of
maturity and temperament. Age group teams along with â€˜Aâ€™ team needs to tour
different countries more frequently to get acquainted with different conditions.
Proper Selection Process: Selection process for our national never
has never been consistent. Most of the times, players are pushed too early in
the international cricket and are thrown away as they fail to deliver quickly
because of inexperience and immaturity. There should be a proper selection guideline
which would make the selection process uniform and productive.
Proper Infrastructure: At present, we already have some good stadiums.
These stadiums need to have fast sporting green wickets installed. Most of our
stadiums lack good drainage system which needs to be improved. Every town and
city needs to have a few number of cricket grounds dedicated for cricket.
Transparency and Efficiency Assurance: BCB should run as a commercial
organization full of transparency. Professional people need to be hired for
different positions. Long term plan with proper budget and funding is very important.
A separate progress monitoring committee along with a separate audit team will
make BCB efficient and transparent.
Last Words: Success is a sequence of proper planning and its careful
implementation. Our success in cricket relies on the fact of following the proper
process. If we can make a long term plan with good in-sight, we will surely
achieve success in cricket. Otherwise, there is no way to do it except a few
successes from time to time.
We have already been tardy in terms of making the right plans for our cricket
and as a result our national image in cricket gets humiliated at a regular basis.
BCB needs to take on this issue as one of utmost urgency and should set about
making things right now!