Even after humiliating and abysmal performance in two tests against India Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli and Sunil Gavaskar did not think Bangladesh Cricketers lack skills. But what they all thought that Bangladesh lacks experience and exposure to playing against quality bowling on sporting wickets. They felt that Bangladesh needs revamping their domestic cricket format. They also suggested for exposing Bangladesh cricketers more often to playing longer version cricket on sporting wickets and creating greater incentives through enhancing match fees.
Bangladesh is playing test cricket for about twenty years. Over this period they played 117 tests in all test playing countries. Most of 13 wins are against depleted West Indies, Zimbabwe and against Australia and England on low slow turning tracks at home. Bangladesh looked miserable against all teams on tour and many of the 88 defeats were innings defeats in matches completed in three days. For a team playing test cricket for almost two decades such a miserable performance has no excuse. Time has come for reality check and explore what Bangladesh needs to replicate from leading test playing countries like India, Australia and England for long term sustainable development of cricket in Bangladesh.
Over hauling Domestic Cricket For Sustainable Development.
We must bear in mind that system will hunt talents, nourish them for developing into quality players for longer term services in the national team. Very few would come with natural talents.
First and foremost thing that needs appreciating is that test cricket is the ultimate format of cricket. ODI and T20 are there simply for entertainment and momentary pleasure. It is only test cricket which tastes the skill, technique, patience, temperament of players. Not that all players everywhere are blessed with natural talents. System nourishes natural talents and polishes them as quality players for surviving in the very challenging environments of modern day cricket. Gone are the days of amateurism. It is time of professionalism when playing full time cricket is way of life. Even cricket coaching, officiating in matches, cricket organization and administration are full time job . Cricket boards in most test playing countries either have former players with proven track records as leaders or die heart cricket organizers having in depth knowledge and love of the game .We are not sure how many of the present BCB members would qualify under such categories . We can not expect long term sustainable development of Bangladesh cricket without having a far sighted BCB of competent persons. BCB has to have proper perspective planning, excellent implantation capabilities, talent harnessing program, monitoring capabilities of development of age group cricketers. These are all lessons that can be learned from Australia, England or India.
Bangladesh desperately needs overhauling of domestic cricket infrastructure. The local first class cricket matches must be remodeled in line with English County Cricket, Sheffield Shield or Ranji Trophy formats. There must be at least 7 venues with good playing surfaces (sporting wickets, indoor practice facilities, gymnasium , swimming pool ) in 7 divisions . Home away matches must be organized on regular basis of four day matches and ODI. Every divisional teams may have one main team say A team and at least an Under 19 team from whether talented players may graduate to A team on due course . Each divisional team must have own full time paid coaches and management. The players may be sourced from scouting in the region. These teams apart from own funding collected from contribution from local business may get annual grants from BCB. Players would be paid professionals and proper incentives must be given for playing. There can be insurance schemes developed for all players.Australian Lessons:
Australia is a porting nation. With only 23 million people Australia is a dominating force is world cricket for years because of a great system of grade cricket. Each of the six states of Australia have excellent stadiums (MCG, SCG, Gaba, Adelaide Oval, Belreive Oval, WACA and Perth Stadium, Manuka Oval for playing international and interstate matches.
Each state participates in Sheffield Shield and Big Bash T20 Cricket. Each state has twenty teams. Each team have their own play grounds, gym facilities and green top wickets for holding at least three to four matches simultaneously. Each of the 20 teams has four different units ( A, B, C, D ) for men and two (A & B) for women playing Each of these have 20 players. Now all these add to 6(20x 20x4 +20X20X2) = 6 (1600+800) =6(2400) = 14,400 players in first class cricket. These players remain super fit with extensive fitness training in pre season camps. Every Saturday and Sunday each segment team play against the other on home and away basis. These matches are all played in true competitive and festive manners. Love and passion of playing cricket in Australia is seen to believe. From 14,400 first class players it is not at all difficult forming national teams for tests and other formats. Cricket Australia has established protocol for selecting players and arranging coaching and training in cricket academies. Schools, colleges and universities also have teams and proper playing facilities for boys and girls. Communities extend excellent support and assistance. Players get excellent atmosphere for growth and development. Players appearing in the national team come through excellent system unlike Bangladesh. Hence the system creates sustainable development. In such situation when players like Waughs, Chapples, Lillee, Thosmon, Border, Warne, McGrath retire new talented players take their shoes. They need not have to bother who would replace Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim , Mushfique or Mahmudullah. System breeds players consistently and cricket goes on.
The Ranji Trophy, Dullep Trophy, English County League are not much different . Bangladesh has option for choosing any system from the top three Cricket playing nations. But before that Bangladesh needs a functional BCB of competent cricket administrators. Cricket must be freed of politics.
BDST: 1424 HRS, Nov 26, 2019