Five superior quality senior cricketers Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riad emerging almost together at the same time in the international cricket have made major contribution in graduating Bangladesh cricket to an enviable level.
Individually or collectively these five often called fabulous five (Poncho Pandob) earned Bangladesh fame in regional and international cricket. Bangladesh rocked strong India and South Africa in World Cup 2007 when most of them first appeared. Since then Bangladesh played in the quarter final of ICC World Cup 2015, semi final of the champions trophy and final of Asia cup. Form is temporary but the class is permanent. These five however still remains head and shoulder above the rest of the players. This in a way is not what is expected for a team desiring for sustainable success in world cricket.
Mashrafe the senior most of the five is one of leading pace bowler who has endured seven major surgeries on his knees. Many top international players have hanged up their boots after one or two such surgery. But every time this wonderful champion cricketer bounced back after rehabilitation and gloried Bangladesh leading from the front. Bangladesh under his captaincy has earned significant success at home and even abroad. He, however, retired from T20 international and is not risked for playing test. But he continues playing and leading the team in ODI. He opted to join active politics and appearing for the ruling party for the last general election. Now he is an elected member of the parliament. Recently there has been too much talks about his retirement or at least relinquishing the responsibility of captaincy. He has so many unique record as a captain and has recently joined elite club of winning 100 ODI matches as captain.
Mushfiqur Rahim according to many is the most technically equipped batsman Bangladesh has ever seen. He also kept wicket and led the team in all formats. He is regarded as a highly committed professional and very serious for holding his fitness and form with prolonged net sessions. There were talks about making him play as batsman only as his wicket keeping became inconsistent from time to time. But as a batsman he remains the nucleus of Bangladesh team. Only the other day he scored a brilliant double century, his third in test cricket. A very pleasing personality and source of inspiration, soft spoken Mushfique is an ideal cricketer. Given option he recorded his strong opinion for not going to Pakistan for playing series and BCB duly accepted. Following inconsistent performance of Bangladesh team in Pakistan in absence of Shakib and Mushfique, BCB thought that presence of Mushfique would strengthen the team. Instead of persuading him they tried to pressurize him through dropping him from home series against Zimbabwe. Great that they did not do and Mushfique answered everything with his sterling performances. He remains irreplaceable batsman in Bangladesh middle order now.
Shakib Al Hasan until recently was the top all rounder in all formats of international cricket. He was one of the best performing all rounder in the last CWC 2019. He is already in the elite group of top all rounder ever played the game like Sir Garfield Sovers, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadlee, Jack Kallis, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev. He is now serving ICC ban from all form of ICC or its member nation cricket till late October 2020. He is not available for representing Bangladesh even till the next T20 World Cup. He is a very aggressive middle order batsman, skillful left arm orthodox spinner and very agile fielder. He was also Test and T20 captain of Bangladesh.
Tamim Iqbal Khan holds almost all batting records of Bangladesh in all formats of the game. Flamboyant opening batsman has recently joined elite club of scoring 7000 ODI runs and 13000 Runs in all formats .He has survived through a lean patch following his injury and scored a punishing 158 against the touring Zimbabwe. Bangladesh for years desperately searched for a batsman ideal for playing as his mate. Tamim is still an automatic choice.
Mahmudullah Riad could be developed as an ideal all rounder in all formats if handled and managed well. He is a stylist aggressive middle order batsman and skillful off spinner. He has good record of leading his teams in domestic and franchise cricket. But for reasons unknown he is one of the underrated player. In CWC world Cup 2015 he scored two centuries each against England in Australia and New Zealand in New Zealand. Such a player was unnecessarily dropped from the test side for one or few poor innings. But he still has the potential for representing Bangladesh for another 3-5 years.
No one remains indispensable for anything for ever. Whatever great these five may be someday one after another all five have to leave way for competent successor. But unfortunately none have any ideal replacement for ever. No pace bowler has achieved the control and skill of Mashrafe yet. None can bat anyway near Tamim, there is no replacement for Shakib as an all rounder even in World Cricket, Mushfique remains one of the top middle order batsman in world cricket. Even Mahmudullah has no ideal replacement yet.
In international cricket smart teams like Australia, England, New Zealand and India for their excellent domestic cricket identify, nourish and mentor quality cricketers in a planned manner. It is not a good sign for Bangladesh cricket that there is no such perspective plan or organized domestic cricket structure in Bangladesh . BKSP and some privately run cricket academies help spotting and primarily nourishing young talents. Bangladesh for the last several years are performing appreciably in age group cricket. But they are mostly lost as they are either hurried into senior team and dropped after one two matches or ignored all together .Bangladesh Cricket does not have any succession plan. That is why Australia retains its position among the top though Wauagh Brothers, Hayden, Ponting, Gilchrist, Macgrath, Warne retired almost within few years of each other. India could remain at the top after Tendulkar, Shewag, Ganguly, Dravid, VVS Lakhsman, Kumble leaving almost at the same time. Can Bangladesh retain its position if Bangladesh choose to leave out all five now or even over the next two years? Why not Mustafiz or Taskin could grow as automatic choice by now? Why not Soumya perform much better than what he is doing? Why is Shabbir and Nasir are lost? Why not one of the Bijoy, Kayes, Shariar Nafees could not stay as ideal partner of Tamim?
Many will blame that a highly privileged syndicate of some individuals dictate most affairs of domestic cricket. They choose and favour players according to their own interest. The players who do not fit their evil design do not get deserved treatment. Dedicated quality local coaches and trainers do not get opportunities. This syndicate select coaches. Over the recent time national coaching staff did not have great working experience in Bangladesh. There has been no coordinated approach of integrating local and foreign coaches . The syndicate mentioned above are involved in many alleged corruption and mismanagement. One BCB Director is now in Jail with allegation for involvement in Casino scandal. Another director was questioned by ACC for money laundering. Wonder how they still remains as Director of BCB.
Media very often interview BCB bosses, selectors and very controversial issues appear. No where in the world Senior Cricket officials are involved in the team selection process and day to day cricket operation. But a ceratin person is always there in everything . In the recent past when players agitated in a group over their legitimate demand many of the above issues came up for reference . But mischief mongers some how managed to escape unhurt.
But as cricket admirers and well wishers we want sustainable success of Bangladesh Cricket. Bangladesh must be very lucky that even Prime Minister herself is an ardent follower of the game. She must spent sometime thinking deep about the future of Bangladesh cricket and see that cricket is saved from the grip of evil syndicate. Senior players like Mashrafe, Shakib, Mushfique, Tamim and Mahmudullah must be heard and taken remedial actions accordingly. Players also assist in developing ideal successors. Bangladesh cricket at this moment need a truly professional ideally performing BCB.
BDST: 1442 HRS, MAR 04, 2020