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It?s a nagging ache. Match after match we stumble upon the same problems. It?s the same obstacles that are hampering our drive to win more one-day matches. And despairingly, the last three ODI matches in the Windies have not produced any substantial progress. Batting and collapses are not strange bedfellows in Bangladesh cricket. Also, the continuing saga of the openers still remains the main stumbling block and we have tried all possible combinations: Alok with Rana; Bidyut with Sarkar; Ash with Sarker. You name it and Bangladesh has tried it. So what are the few options left to the selectors? Not much but to significantly boost performance in the one-day game a radical change in the mindset needs to be inserted.

Cooking up the ODI team

Published: 24th June, 2004

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It?s a nagging ache. Match after match we stumble upon the same problems. It?s the same obstacles that are hampering our drive to win more one-day matches. And despairingly, the last three ODI matches in the Windies have not produced any substantial progress. Batting and collapses are not strange bedfellows in Bangladesh cricket. Also, the continuing saga of the openers still remains the main stumbling block and we have tried all possible combinations: Alok with Rana; Bidyut with Sarkar; Ash with Sarker. You name it and Bangladesh has tried it. So what are the few options left to the selectors? Not much but to significantly boost performance in the one-day game a radical change in the mindset needs to be inserted.

ODI Openers

ODI Openers [MH = Mehrab, JO = Javed Omar, HS = Hannan Sarker, AS = Al Sahariar, SH = Shahriar Hossain, and AH = Anisul Hakim] Credit: Zunaid

Let?s spend some time to break down exactly what is the problem with Bangladesh in one-day cricket? Well, it is simply the batting. More poignantly, it is batting with frenzy that we see in teams such as Sri Lanka and Australia. On a more upbeat note, we are seeing our bowlers, and in particular the recent matches, regularly restricting sides to around 250 and under. But as a futile counter response, our batsmen repeatedly struggle to notch up those runs. For the prevailing mentality of the team seems to be still in the ?survival? mode.

It could very well be that this is still a legacy of adapting the players to the new situation of a test-playing nation. Whatmore, I believe is still groping for the right game plan. Based on the coach?s experience with other teams he has coached he has few options left.

Different strategies may be needed to make the Bangladesh team more competitive. How about the ?Aggressive approach?? The word around is that Bangladesh does not have the consistency in batting to justify a top order assault within the first 15 overs. Hitting ability of the batsmen who were lower down the order precluded that such an aggressive endeavour could be justified. However, observing the newfound vigour of our lower order, Whatmore might actually revive the tactic of a full first 15 over offense. The top six, I believe, are ready to play the full 50 overs and score at a decent rate. But more importantly, if Rafique and Pilot do consistently manage to repeat the sort of rearguard revival that we saw in the Windies, then it gives more room to the openers to adjust their style to be more aggressive.

A pair of openers competent in various strokes is required. And if perfect balance, coordination and certainty of execution were accepted as the principal ingredients of batsmanship, then we must find such a man for the role. A solution that is most likely is the introduction of Ashraful as an opener. A lot of people are dead against it but there is an element of sanity in it.

In Rajin, we have another player who is slowly fitting into his role as the anchor of the one-day team. He has kept to his usual approach of caution mixed with aggression. He is a living example that there are different approaches taken by batsmen to achieve success in the one-day game. The team just needs to mould a strategy based around players like Rajin and Bashar, two opposites in every sense, but way too important for the future of the team. So we will have a lot of players who do take the singles and on the other hand persistent hookers such as Bashar playing till their time in the team is up.

There was a lot of discussion about the team selection for the upcoming Asia cup and one of the main points made was the number of batsmen in the team make up. Do we play three or four batsmen, two specialist batsmen? And where do the all-rounders come in?

Throughout our long struggle in the ODI games I always felt that we were ?always? short of batsmen. In previous occasions we have seen too many times Sujon, Mushfiq and other specialist seamers, hogging the limelight. Having that many extra part-time spinners is a bowler too many. But having said that, I believe we will see more spinners in the guise of Rafiq and it is a right strategy. If we could find spinners with exceptional batting skills then we are well on our way to coming up with the right team for the different pitches that ODI will eventually be played in.

In this respect the advent of Razzak in the upcoming Asia cup is exciting. His inclusion in the Windies tour was justified even though he sat in the benches throughout. The selectors are making a conscious effort to bring in these youngsters out there, even if they are not playing. Razzak, I strongly believe got a lot out if the tour as he has seen the demands and the intricacies of international matches and will be better prepared the day he does come into the field in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, he is the right type of bowler for the Lankan conditions and the selectors will be hoping for some glimpses of batting from the young man.

Lastly, a growing and disturbing trend among cricketing nations is to field almost completely different teams for Test matches and One day Internationals. A reassuring aspect of our new selectors is that they are actually quite sympathetic to the wishes and plight of the players. For the players selected for the shorter version of the game are no less talented than those who are selected for Test duty. In other countries, some players (for example the case of Mark Ramprakash of England and on some occasions Powell of West Indies) have been omitted from the test teams. The unofficial reason always is: lack the staying power and the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. This is unfair. These young men are being branded as One Day players by the selectors. And the criterion is the elusive tag of ?stability?. If this is the criterion we might end up with youngsters who are not given a fair chance to mature and develop. Just wonder how you would feel when left out from ?the? essence of the game that is ?test? cricket.

We see again and again some players (no names mentioned), who have got to the highest level by sheer luck given their lackluster performances. It's time to open up to the men with the true qualities of endurance, determination and sheer will to succeed.

References:

  1. More on Openers


G.M Bashar is a banglacricket forum moderator and he goes by the nick oracle - editors.

 

About the author(s): G. M. Bashar is a BanglaCricket supermoderator who is known as "oracle". He is a prolific contributor to our collection of fine articles. In addition to his obvious interest in cricket, he also has a keen desire to be our own version of David Frost - exemplified by the large number of interviews he has taken of key Bangladesh cricket personalities.

 

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