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  #1  
Old November 16, 2004, 10:56 AM
chinaman chinaman is offline
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Default Bangladesh hit the glass ceiling: A masterpiece by Rabeed Imam

November 16, 2004

Article published in Cricinfo >>

As soon as the one-day series against New Zealand had finished, Bangladesh's captain Habibul Bashar headed off straight to his sleepy hometown of Kushtia. He had made just two appearances in the one-dayers having missed the Tests due to a thumb injury. Now he had a limp and carried a crutch, courtesy of a James Franklin yorker on the big toe of his left foot in the second match, which put him out of the third.


Bashar is probably the one Bangladesh player who is spared a daily dissection in the sports media, which has become worryingly cricket-oriented since the Tigers made it to the 1999 World Cup. He is also the bloke the fans prefer to forgive for the occasional failure, knowing that he is a good bet to come up trumps in the next innings. But even the country's most successful batsman was relishing the opportunity to spend the Eid holidays in some peace and quiet.


"The pressure is too much in Dhaka. Everyone it seems has attained the right to criticise us," said Bashar. "Getting away from the capital is a nice thought." His sentiment was being shared by other members of his team, who have been at the receiving end both on and off the field ever since an encouraging first trip of the Caribbean finished in June.


For the record, Bangladesh played just two Tests between June and November and lost both by an innings. But that was just a continuation of their dreadful one-day form. In the last nine one-dayers, Bangladesh crossed 200 just once and that was only against the amateurs of Hong Kong in the Asia Cup. Twice, they have folded for less than 100. Suddenly, those who had seen some light after the fighting show in the West Indies were ready to press the panic button.


You don't have to be an Einstein to put your finger on the reasons for Bangladesh's repeated failures. It's their dismal batting that just won't click. These days even their coach, Dav Whatmore, is unable to explain the repeated top-order collapses that are the only sure thing you can expect when Bangladesh are batting.


The frustrations are apparent even among the groundstaff at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. "What's the use of preparing a wicket according to the wish of the team management?" asked one of the team, after Bangladesh had been shot out for 177 on the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand. "When it's a perfect batting track, they get bundled out before tea. And there are never enough runs for the bowlers to attack. Home-advantage is a grossly misplaced expression in our country."


The two Test matches ended inside four days. The bowling and fielding were superb in the one-dayers, but again Bangladesh never posed a challenge with the bat. Naturally, fingers have been pointed at the standard of domestic cricket by international observers, commentators and even touring teams. But herein lies the enigma.


Unlike the players of every other Test-playing nation, the majority of Bangladesh's top cricketers are not products of the domestic first-class competition. Instead, they have either earned their place in the side by performing well in the limited-overs Dhaka Premier League, traditionally the most popular and lucrative event, or have been picked up straight from the Under-19s and exposed to the big time. The concept of an A or a B team to ease these youngsters into the top level is virtually non-existent, and that's why so many teenagers and twentysomethings walk into the Bangladesh team without anyone knowing if they are ready.


Khaled Mashud, the wicketkeeper and former captain, draws the true picture. "Our fate won't improve much if the top players are not appearing in the first-class competition. Four-day games are where you prepare for the challenges of Test cricket and learn to bat for long hours. But that is not happening in our case."


Perhaps Bangladesh is the only country at Test level where the domestic calendar is more a myth than a reality. No-one knows when the next National Cricket League (NCL), the only first-class competition, will kick off. The Dhaka Premier League was not held last season as clubs refused to participate in two Premier Leagues in the same year that's what the impractical calendar had suggested. From nowhere a corporate cricket league (CCL) came into being as a poor substitute. This season, that CCL turned into a Twenty20 event. Four-day matches are not part of anyone's equation at the moment, it seems.


Often in the past, the first-class competition has been held at a time when the national cricketers were either on tour or were in the preparation camp for a coming series. For the likes of Mohammad Ashraful, Alok Kapali or Hannan Sarkar, first-class experience has only come in the form of Test cricket, and that can be a harsh learning process. Big scores and consistency is a habit that is carried over from domestic level to the Test stage. Bangladeshi batsmen are developing their habits of making thirties, forties and the occasional half-century in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Tests and sadly, that is becoming their limit.


So what can Whatmore do? His role in the Bangladesh set-up is nothing similar to what he had in Sri Lanka. From the start, he has been a mentor, a guide and the captain behind the captain of the team he had inherited. It is almost like coaching an academy side where you have to be a father first and then an instructor. Until recently, they had looked like proceeding towards a goal. But a few tumbles here and there and now not even extended batting sessions or a specialist batting coach can reignite the confidence. Maybe it's time to take a different approach.


At present, Whatmore and his three fellow selectors are dependent on a pool of 20-odd players to choose from. One of the reasons he cannot go beyond those same faces is because he has very little idea about the kind of talent available in the domestic circuit. The different nature of his task here in Bangladesh requires him to watch more local cricket with the eyes of a scout.


From the very beginning, Whatmore has enjoyed the presence of a number of his native Australians as support staff, and they all get along extremely well with the players. But the apprehension has surfaced recently that there has not been enough communication.


A local coach summed up the problem. "Some of the boys can admit to me without hesitation if they have not followed their individual training schedule, but it is not that plain and simple when they talk to the foreign instructors. Many tend to hide their injuries or what they are actually thinking, while some others just can not express themselves properly because of language limitations."


A homegrown assistant coach, someone who has the respect and faith of the players and knows them inside out could work wonders in bridging the gap. Mohammad Salahuddin, a 30-year-old who has guided two unheralded sides to major domestic trophies in the last two seasons, based on predominantly motivational qualities and a wonderful cricket brain, would fit the bill. Salahuddin is also a coach at the Bangladesh Institute of Sports and has worked extensively with the next generation of international stars.


For the moment though, Bangladesh are the excuse for anything negative in international cricket. New Zealand's opener, Mark Richardson, claimed recently that the reason for his failure in the series against the Tigers was due to the poor quality of the opposition! Martin Crowe suggested that Bangladesh should play only against the team ranked immediately above them, while there have been all sorts of two-tier, three-tier theories to undermine the existence of the tenth member of the Test family. On the home front, the media is getting increasingly impatient. "Same old story" was the title of a feature on Bangladesh's latest debacle in one of the dailies, while some sports pages are reportedly contemplating more coverage of the local football scene in future at the expense of cricket.


But there are still the loyal fans who are not prepared to give up hope. Fanatics who fill up the stands even after fasting for the whole day during the month of Ramadan. "This is so unique, a full-house after your team had made 86 in the match before!" exclaimed a BCB official, looking at the packed galleries during the second ODI. "How many more heartbreaks can they take until their patience finally snaps?" That's the kind of energy that drives Bangladesh's cricket and that might yet carry it through the trying times.
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  #2  
Old November 16, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Ahmed_B Ahmed_B is offline
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Quote:
Perhaps Bangladesh is the only country at Test level where the domestic calendar is more a myth than a reality. No-one knows when the next National Cricket League (NCL), the only first-class competition, will kick off. The Dhaka Premier League was not held last season as clubs refused to participate in two Premier Leagues in the same year that's what the impractical calendar had suggested. From nowhere a corporate cricket league (CCL) came into being as a poor substitute. This season, that CCL turned into a Twenty20 event. Four-day matches are not part of anyone's equation at the moment, it seems....
BCB has any sort of replies to these allegations?
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  #3  
Old November 16, 2004, 01:29 PM
billah billah is offline
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"allegations"!

These are the facts, man. It's a crapshoot for the clubs and the players. No one knows when or where the NCL or Premier league will be held. BCB has neglected the local cricket for sure.
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  #4  
Old November 16, 2004, 04:20 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by crickethorizon
BCB has any sort of replies to these allegations?
I guess not. They are too busy hunting reptiles and allegators in Sundar Ban after a financially successfuly BAN-NZ series.
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  #5  
Old November 16, 2004, 05:27 PM
paco paco is offline
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BCB isn't listening or doesn't care. Like any other organization in Bangladesh, they're just a bunch of utterly incompetent jokers put in position by virtue of their butt kissing ability.
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  #6  
Old November 16, 2004, 06:12 PM
Ameer Ameer is offline
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Quote:
Unlike the players of every other Test-playing nation, the majority of Bangladesh's top cricketers are not products of the domestic first-class competition. Instead, they have either earned their place in the side by performing well in the limited-overs Dhaka Premier League, traditionally the most popular and lucrative event, or have been picked up straight from the Under-19s and exposed to the big time. The concept of an A or a B team to ease these youngsters into the top level is virtually non-existent, and that's why so many teenagers and twentysomethings walk into the Bangladesh team without anyone knowing if they are ready.
I found this very interesting. Bangladesh needs to do something about this because this might be the main reason why Bangladesh is failing so badly.
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  #7  
Old November 17, 2004, 12:00 AM
oracle oracle is offline
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Another point worth pondering about is the lack of interest amongst most people about any domestic competitions. Rarely do you meet enough people who can show enough enthusiasm about local competitions. You cannot follow only international cricket. there must be a strong local following that is missing now.
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  #8  
Old November 17, 2004, 09:27 AM
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akabir77 akabir77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by oracle
Another point worth pondering about is the lack of interest amongst most people about any domestic competitions. Rarely do you meet enough people who can show enough enthusiasm about local competitions. You cannot follow only international cricket. there must be a strong local following that is missing now.
I guess if the compition is good they will come. I remember in local friendly mathes we use to have big crouds so let alone when ash or shumon playing..... But the prob is with the admin as the articale says....

When will our butt kissing or the son of ... will under stand they r way over there head???? its a joke when the son of .. goes to aus to hire coach or ceo when he couldn't even made it to the local team... may be its a MOGEEr Mulluk!
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  #9  
Old November 17, 2004, 10:13 AM
Tintin Tintin is offline
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>> Another point worth pondering about is the lack of interest amongst most people about any domestic competitions

It is a universal problem. In India, entrance is free for Ranji league matches at most (all ?) centres but that does not bring in too many people. It is the money that BCCI makes from sponsorship and international matches that keeps the state associations afloat. This is true everywhere.
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  #10  
Old November 17, 2004, 01:15 PM
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Tintin brings up a very valid point. I guess the only remedy would be to pour obscene amounts of money into the tournaments and leagues- not to the regional associations. In Bangladesh's case, we would do well (given the geographical proximity of all the regions) not have large regional bodies and see if we can come up with an NBA-like professional setup! We have to make the league matches appealing to our younger generations. Its all in the marketing. Our young generation should feel that going to one of these matches to spend an afternoon with friends, or to relax is a cool and healthy thing to do. I guess we need some gimmicks and half-time shows (similar to that in the 20/20) to attract interest.

Quote:
Originally posted by Tintin
>> Another point worth pondering about is the lack of interest amongst most people about any domestic competitions

It is a universal problem. In India, entrance is free for Ranji league matches at most (all ?) centres but that does not bring in too many people. It is the money that BCCI makes from sponsorship and international matches that keeps the state associations afloat. This is true everywhere.
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  #11  
Old November 17, 2004, 01:33 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pompous
I guess we need some gimmicks and half-time shows (similar to that in the 20/20) to attract interest.
Thats a good idea.

How about showing Nicollette Sheridan in a pregame /half-time promotion or may be showing Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders?

On Second thought, may be not! .oops:

Edited on, November 17, 2004, 6:33 PM GMT, by Fazal.
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  #12  
Old November 17, 2004, 04:38 PM
Zephaniah Zephaniah is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pompous
Tintin brings up a very valid point. I guess the only remedy would be to pour obscene amounts of money into the tournaments and leagues- not to the regional associations. In Bangladesh's case, we would do well (given the geographical proximity of all the regions) not have large regional bodies and see if we can come up with an NBA-like professional setup! We have to make the league matches appealing to our younger generations. Its all in the marketing. Our young generation should feel that going to one of these matches to spend an afternoon with friends, or to relax is a cool and healthy thing to do. I guess we need some gimmicks and half-time shows (similar to that in the 20/20) to attract interest.
I'll give BCB another marketing plan that will generate money for domestic cricket. Sell the naming rights of divisional teams (NCL), perhaps even stadiums to corporate houses. And spend the money generated to enhance domestic cricket.

Recently Arsenal sold the naming-rights of their stadium to Emirates worth value 100 millions. Market the whole domestic cricket properly - sell the naming rights to corporate houses, make a deal with BD based TV channels to broadcast domestic matches ( or highlights). 'Beximco Dhaka team' playing 'Grameen Phone Sylhet' doesn't sound too bad

But use that money to make domestic cricket attractive for players and spectators. Set up regional HPUs, U-19 competition etc.

Edited on, November 17, 2004, 9:40 PM GMT, by Zephaniah.
Reason: HTML error
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  #13  
Old November 19, 2004, 11:13 AM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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Do we have a domestic cricket calendar for this season on the site anywhere?

You know there are no end to the suggestions people have made to the BCB. Either they don't hear them or they don't understand them. Like most organizations in BD, it isn't very transparent - no one knows what they are thinking or planning to do. And they don't care to communicate that effectively despite having all these highly paid executives and advisors on board.

I agree with the marketing ideas here - BCB would do well to hire a marketing saavy person to revamp domestic cricket. I don't buy that people won't come because a) they supposedly love watching cricket and b) they can't watch the national team every day. So if the cricket matches are quality, there is some entertainment, the price is reasonable or free - people will show up. Watching cricket all day will of course be a problem for people who work but Bangladeshis always seem to find a way around that little problem...
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  #14  
Old November 19, 2004, 11:20 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
Do we have a domestic cricket calendar for this season on the site anywhere?
No. Not yet.
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  #15  
Old November 19, 2004, 11:43 AM
ZunaidH ZunaidH is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
I agree with the marketing ideas here - BCB would do well to hire a marketing saavy person to revamp domestic cricket. I don't buy that people won't come because a) they supposedly love watching cricket and b) they can't watch the national team every day. So if the cricket matches are quality, there is some entertainment, the price is reasonable or free - people will show up. Watching cricket all day will of course be a problem for people who work but Bangladeshis always seem to find a way around that little problem...
Here is a thought to get some crowd interest. I apologize if it ever backfires. Since Kenyans want to play in Bangladesh, the Scottish think they can prove their worth given an opportunity and the Irish are knocking on the door to get ODI status, why not invite a couple of them to join our domestic leagues as teams to spice up the living. I am sure that will pull the crowd. Who would miss the opportunity to watch Kenya playing Abahani, or Biman playing Ireland.
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  #16  
Old November 19, 2004, 12:32 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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It would be nice for the BD fans. But I doubt any one of those national teams will be willing to come to Bangladesh to play against our league teams.
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  #17  
Old November 19, 2004, 02:30 PM
ZunaidH ZunaidH is offline
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Originally posted by Fazal
It would be nice for the BD fans. But I doubt any one of those national teams will be willing to come to Bangladesh to play against our league teams.
Do we really know that for a fact? If we invite them perhaps one would say yes. I did not list Canada but I know for a fact (because I live in Canada) that Canada would send a team if approached.
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