Bangladesh cricket is in a vulnerable position at the moment with a lot of criticism from various corners. At the same time, the optimism centering cricket has never been of any doubt in this country of 140 million. New venues are being built and the efforts are being appreciated. As always, Bangladesh is getting ready for the future. However, with a streak of recent losses, the threats and the criticisms have suddenly become too much to handle.
Is there any solution? Or is it an unsolvable problem, an infinite loop of defeats?
The solution will have to come from a managerial perspective. That is, the way managers view problems, thoroughly analyze problems and come up with solutions. As a professional manager, I have taken some time to analyze our cricket from this perspective.
When Bangladesh was in Australia, there were a lot of stories in the air. Everyone knew how strong Australia was and how weak Bangladesh was. The strongest cricket team vs the weakest in the world. Many people supported the view that the test matches would be over in one day.
I went to Allan Border field to watch Bangladeshi cricketers practice. I was surprised to see the hard work and determination of Bangladeshi cricketers. There was absolutely no sign of nervousness that they were going to face the best cricket team in the world (and in their own territory). The mental toughness - do we have it? Yes we do!
Mashrafee Mortaza proved to be in a class of his own.
None of the test matches were over in a day. As a matter of fact, in one of the matches (I can't remember if it was test match or an ODI), Hannan Sarkar probably scored a half century or close to that, and the Australian commentators were really appreciating the competitiveness Bangladeshi cricketers were demonstrating. Mashrafe Mortaza
proved to be in a class of his own. Do we have world class players? Yes we do. Bangladesh has produced players like Minhazul Abedin, Akram Khan, Mehrab Hossain, Alok Kapali
, Mohammad Ashraful
, Mohammad Rafique
and Habibul Bashar
. There is absolutely no doubt about their class.
I believe there is no need for me to detail how much enthusiasm and preparations we have for cricket in Bangladesh.
What exactly is the problem then?
Without going into too much I can list the following problems:
1) Bureaucratic procedures within our administration.
2) A tendency of constantly changing the team and experimenting with the batting order.
3) Leadership problems:
Do we know exactly who the most powerful person in our cricket environment is? Do we know if that person is the most capable person?
4) Players' motivation seem to be fluctuating, and this is a direct result of uncertainty. Excepting a very few, no one is sure of their future existence in Bangladesh cricket.
Whether we have improved or not is a difficult question to answer at this point in time. But an easy statement to make is: although we have had major problems, we have shown sudden spark in certain matches and have threatened the opposition. Some of our players have started to win respect internationally (i.e. Habibul Bashar, Mohammad Rafique and Mohammad Ashraful)
We know we have talent, we have the enthusiasm, the optimism and the preparation, however, only thing we need to know now is how to perform. There is absolutely no choice. We must win at least 2 out of our next 10 matches.
They must believe in themselves and their abilities.
What could be our strategy for the immediate short-term?
1) We may take as much time as we want to to select the team of 15, but I suggest we keep the same team at least for the next 10 matches. We also need to bring stability in the batting order.
2) BCB must declare some incentives for players. If BCB doesn't, large corporations such as Beximco, Grameen, Transcom, Bashundhara etc, must annouce some kind of real incentives.
3) Irrespective of whoever is the most powerful person in BCB, as soon as a team is finalized, full authority and responsibility should be transferred to the coach.
4) The most important aspect is motivation and a team spirit. All players have to feel motivated to succeed as part of a team. They must believe in themselves and their abilities. I am pretty sure there are management specialists (or even sports psychologists) in Bangladesh who may be contracted by BCB. We need our players to attend some motivational seminars where they will have a feeling of success. These seminars may also be used as a place for team building, setting priorities and future strategies. Performance of opposition teams may also be viewed on large screens and analyzed during these seminars.
Sports Psychology as an occupation may not have developed in Bangladesh as yet, however, we do have management consultants and specialists. We also have our own specialist cricketers such as Raquibul Islam, Akram Khan, Atahar Ali, Gazi Ashraf Lipu etc who can come and speak to motivate our cricketers.
We need to take a step in the right direction and the best time is 'right now'.