Bangladesh Under 19 Cricket achieving the glory of Championship in ICC World Cup and the flowing day senior team suffering yet another humiliating innings defeat have again raised pertinent questions. Bangladeshi teenagers and even the women cricketers for a while performing admirably well in regional and international tournament but apart from few and far between good performance the success ratio of senior team is on diminishing return. Players like Mustafiz, Taskin, Mehedy Miraj, Soumya Sarkar appeared with lots of promise. But none could push the fabulous five and establish themselves in the team yet. There were some successes in ODI matches when one or few of the top five performed. But in T20 and Test Bangladesh continues to languish at the bottom. Where are the flaws in maturing the young talents? Where are the inadequacies? What are the shortcomings?
It is 20 years Bangladesh is a test playing nation. We can no longer say that international cricket is new in Bangladesh. BCB is one of the most affluent cricket board. There is no dearth of resources. Bangladesh is very lucky that they have a sports loving and cricket loving Prime Minister. The entire nation is united only in appreciating its cricket and cricketers. Realise how the entire Bangladeshi nation reacted to the victory of the Under 19 team. It is a great pain for them absorbing humiliating defeats in tests against India and Pakistan. There are definite flaws and failures in games development. Bangladesh domestic infrastructure is not at all favorable for producing and nourishing quality cricketers for playing longer version cricket. As such the natural talents which Bangladesh posses in plenty get lost. Buds hardly bloom.
BCB games development personnel definitely deserves credit for preparing the Under 19 team and giving them required exposures for competing against the best of the best. This team got battle hardened from playing against strong opposition abroad. Great physical fitness and sense of togetherness were the elements that elevated them from good players to champion players. Appreciate the ice cool temperament of Akbar Ali and Rokibul, the commitment of Emon, the tenacity of the entire team. This is what is missing in the senior team. It is great that Shakib, Tamim, Mushfique and Mahmudullah achieved world rating. But it is not a good sign that no one pushed them for place so far. Hope the youngsters from this Under 19 team can do that in not too distant future if they can be groomed well. But it is where we have great doubt and confusion.
Bangladesh should have continued with senior quality players like Shariar Nafiz, Tushar Imran, Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak a little longer stressing upon their fitness and gradually replace them with quality youngsters. Losing Mohammad Ashraful was a big blow. But we can not agree that those who replaced them proved better than them yet.
We must let out players play and prepare on good sporting surfaces. The wickets where domestic cricket is played do not encourage pace bowlers. On easy paced, low and slow wickets average batsmen score hundreds , double hundreds without required skills for playing against good pace bowling on bouncy wickets . On the other hand Bangladeshi pace bowlers do not know where to pitch on pacey wickets. Sometimes in T20 and ODI success come. But test cricket is the ultimate frontier where temperament, consistency and quality are essential.
One may ask how then Shoriful, Shakib and Avisehk bowled so exceptionally well against India. They definitely executed a plan clinically. They must have learned this and tuned their game playing on good surfaces on tour. They demonstrated great fitness which national team pacers lack. We are not sure how long the teenage tiger pacers would maintain their standard unless nature of the playing surfaces in domestic arena change.We can talk about Taskin. He stormed into international cricket from his eruption against India prior to 2015 world cup. Why BCB could not mature him well? What about cutter master Mustafiz? What a brilliant natural talent was he? He could continue to be a match winner in all formats. He was not dealt with well. Mehedy Miraj was the player of the Tournament in Under 19 World cup played in Bangladesh. He was shaping up as a great all rounder. He rocked England even in test. Has he fulfilled his promise yet. Bangladesh could not produce a match winning leg spinner yet while teams of the subcontinent even Afghanistan and Nepal produce many.
We will not agree that BCB has a plan in place for improving longer version cricket. India is top country for IPL T20 franchise. But they have at the same time wonderfully structured first class cricket. Australia and England are no different. Bangladesh plays longer version domestic cricket just as a mere formality. Given the great popularity of the game Bangladesh must encourage regional cricket organization devote more time and energy in regional cricket. Stadiums in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Cumilla, Rangpur and other places must have good sporting wickets, fully equipped gymnasiums. All regional cricket bodies must have true committed organizers running the affairs, not his master voices. Players must be encouraged playing longer version cricket.
Unless Bangladesh attach top most priority to longer version games, test cricket talented players would come and go. Some occasional victories would there. But sustainable success cannot be achieved.
Victorious Under 19 team would carry with them the championship trophy tomorrow. They richly deserve the promised civic reception stated by none less than Prime Minister. These boys kept their cool under extreme pressure. The entire nation has lot to learn how the team conducted themselves through out the tournament. Let us not blow out their success. They must get all positive opportunities for earning greater glories on due course. Let us hot hurry them to higher level.
GIVE THE DEVILS THE DUE
BDST: 1330 HRS, FEB 11, 2020