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Old February 25, 2008, 01:37 PM
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Siddons stands by Rahim
Bishwajit Roy

It took only forty-five minutes on the fourth morning to see the South Africans complete their job to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series against Bangladesh.

Interestingly, the post-match briefing was much longer than the day's action. The victorious skipper Graeme Smith and man-of-the-match Jacques Kallis made a short presence on the podium and home captain Mohammad Ashraful was also not in a mood to have a long conversation with the media.

It was however Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons, the man who loves to share his ideas with the press, who took centre stage as the Australian had his first real salvo with the media regarding his policy about the 'future team'.

The shaven-headed coach came down hard when asked in which criteria wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim is continuing his place in the team. The criticism has been loud, not only because of Mushfiq's poor keeping but also because of his batting, for which he took over the reins from veteran Khaled Mashud.

The right-hander was nowhere among the runs since he made a well-composed 80 against Sri Lanka and has scored only nine runs in the first Test at Mirpur.

"I think he is the best wicketkeeper in the country. You guys (media) are putting enormous pressure on him with talks of getting rid of him. It's not helping him. He is our best keeper; if you can find a better keeper who is good for our future, let me know. I am looking forward to seeing him.

"I am not a selector. I was told he is our best keeper. I have seen a couple of other wicketkeepers. We can always bring the experienced players and have the same result; I am not going to do that. Every young wicketkeeper is going to get it hard in his first couple of years," he said while defending Mushfiq.

Siddons had also some explanation behind Mushfiq's poor keeping in the match.

"He missed one (chance) today, but I don't think it would have made any difference. But there is no excuse for missing, but it was something very tough on a wicket on the left-side that had unpredictable bounce," he said.

At one stage, he was reminded that every foreign coach, after his arrival, found a lot of potential in a single player but suddenly lost interest in that blue-eyed boy.

When asked how to get rid of the phenomena, he responded: "If you keep picking on a young player, you are going to force him out of the team. You should give him time to prove himself. The young players that we have got in this team have the talent to improve and I am happy to stick with him for as long as I am here."

He however said that he has a lot of work to do with his charges.

"At the moment our batsmen are collapsing and we can lose five for 30 or six for fifty-odd. It is difficult to cover; we are working on having a winning habit, big partnerships -- that we are not doing at the moment. We have a lot of work to do," he opined.

"We have played against a very good cricket team. The have created a lot of pressure on us and we are working to survive in that pressure. (Dale) Steyn was getting a lot of outswing, which turned into inswing for our left-handers," he said.

The main headache of the team is their poor batting and Siddons said that there was no recipe to come out from the problem other than hard practice.

"We have got eleven batsmen out there, who have different mindsets, different techniques, they have deficiency in their temperament, so I have got to work with every individual, not just any one. Unfortunately we don't have bowler who can bowl around 150 in practice matches. So it's very tough for these guys. So it will take time. We have got to do more practice," he said.

Although I am feeling a little impatient with Rahim, but I will support siddons on this one.
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