The secret of being consistently successful lies in a settled team. This has been proven by quite a few teams over the years. Lets have a look at them:
Openers: Hayden - Langer
Middle Order: Ricky Ponting-Martyn-Lehman-Clarke
Wicketkeeper: Adam Gilchrist
Middle Order: Dravid-Sachin-Laxman-Ganguly
Openers: Marcus - Strauss
Middle Order: Bucther-Vaughan-Thorpe-Flintoff
These three teams persist with the above lineups when no injuries are bothering them. These are their lineups against any team under any conditions. And they have been pretty successful with this.
The reason is pretty simple. They have had the most settled teams over a long period of time. The secret to a nation's success lies in its consistency. Consistency not only in performance but also in the composition of a team.
When looking at the Aussies, I would say that they don't seem to have any weak links in that team. They have two stroke-making openers with both having the ability to not only dominate the bowling but to also dig in when required. There is nothing wrong with the middle order either. They have a bowling attack where every one is a wicket-taking bowler.
India too has a superb batting line up to compliment its great bowling attack but the weak point is the keeper. England has a great batting lineup as well as superb bowling attack. Giles seems to be a small weakness for them but he is starting to perform.
Now on to our team. The current team is probably the most settled team we have had during our short stint as a Test playing nation. Lets have a closer look.
Openers: Nafis - Javed
Middle Order: Bashar-Ashraful-Rajin-Aftab
Here, I can spot two weaknesses. The reader may not agree with this, but the two weaknesses are in Javed Omar and Tapash Baisya. They both try hard and play their hearts out for the nation.
However, Javed Omar (keeping in mind he has just scored 2 fifties in the current NCL) is just not good enough an opener who can deliver consistently. His role in the team is to bat as long as possible or in other words to try to anchor the innings. But how many times has he actually done that? In my opinion he is a lot like Afridi in a contrary role. Afridi's role in the team is to blast the opposition's bowling attack, whereas Javed Omar's role is to tire the opposition's bowling attack. Afridi is usually successful in doing it once every 7-8 matches as is Javed Omar. At least Afridi does guarantee runs when he gets going but Javed Omar doesn't. He really is a liability and should be axed.
But the question is this: if not Javed Omar, then who? If we look back at the Aussie and Indian line up, we will notice that one of the batsmen in the opening pair is not a genuine opener. Langer for Australia was a number three batsman who took over the opening slot from Slater due to Slater's lack of form. Sehwag was never an opener. Infact he was a number six for his club team. Nonetheless, both opening pairs have been successful.
Now let us look at our option and straight away the name that comes to my mind is Rajin Saleh. He has already opened in ODIs and has been pretty successful. He is technically sound with a superb temperament. Above all, he has shown that he can last for long hours on the batting crease consistently.
However, moving Rajin up the order will create a gap in the middle order. Here again readers might disagree, but I think an in-form Alok Kapali can fill up this slot. If we just go back two years and remember the form Alok Kapali had before and during the World Cup, we may find the sort of talent and class he had as a batsman. However, he has not done too well in the current NCL, unlike Javed, but, by just including him with a bunch of confident players might just change his fortune. After all, form is temporary but class is forever.
Now to the other weakness, Tapash Baisya. First of all, why do I consider him a weakness? To answer this, I have to first look at his strengths. Number one, he bowls his heart out. Number two, he is superb in certain spells. Number three, he has a great slower ball together with unpredictable pace and bounce. His weakness lies in his inability to produce longer penetrating spells. Additionally, he is often the reason why Bangladesh lets the pressure off. Pressure that he himself might have caused to happen with good spells.
He also is not all that threatening with the old ball, in spite of having a superb slower variation. He, in my opinion, is a perfect one day bowler. I am afraid he is not that good in Test matches.
But the problem is this: who can replace him? The only option at the moment is Nazmul. But in my opinion, Tapash is a better bowler than Nazmul at least in terms of pace. However, we have few more pacers coming along strongly. One obvious option is Rajib. They way he is going, in six to eight months time, I believe we can see him in full action.
There are two more options available at this moment, one is Talha and the other is Shafaq. The latter is very much unknown to me. Talha Jubair has two main problems: his body breaks down very often and his control is erratic. He has a great bowling action as his major asset. If he can overcome his deficiencies he may turn into a very dangerous bowler.
The only thing I know about Shafaq Al Zabir is that he is tall and is some one who is said to be of great prospect. Very recently there is another bowler who has hit the scene. And that is Wascooroni. I have learnt that he is a find of the GP pacer hunt and has already taken a 5 wicket haul in the NCL. It appears to me that while Talha, Zabir and Wascooroni may take some time to develop into international fast bowlers, Rajib might very well be ready to knock at the door in about 6 to 8 months time. Till then, Tapash is probably the best support bowler to our champion pacer Mashrafe.
For the sake of consistency, I would prefer the same team that played against Zimbabwe. At least for the England test matches. Talking about the England tour, I feel it will probably be the most important series for Bangladesh. This is because the team has only been going forward over the last few months and a good performance in England may just make the world sit-up and take notice.
Bowling combination is obviously a major debate as conditions there may just require us to have an extra seamer instead of two spinners. However, the question is this: do we have a third seamer who can really get wickets for us? Horses for courses is a common saying, but when we don't have an extra winning horse then why include one? I would have had no problem with a third seamer six months ago when we only had one match winning spinner. Now, I am not ready to sacrifice one match winning spinner for a doubtful pacer. Although I would definitely include Rajib and Kapali in the team just to let them play a few practice matches and let them have a feel of the confidence and moral of the team. However, I would not play Rajib in a Test match even if Mashrafee gets injured let alone Tapash.
The following is the sort of team I would like Bangladesh to field in a year's time and one which, I believe, if persisted, will do well. Again the Alok Kapali here is the Kapali we had seen during the 2002-03 season.
Middle Order: Bashar-Ashraful-Kapali-Aftab
Following is my squad for the England tour:
Habibul Bashar, Rajin Saleh, Mohammed Ashraful, Nafis Iqbal, Javed Omar, Aftab Ahmed, Khaled Mashud, Mohammed Rafique, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tapash Baisya, Enamul Haq jnr, Alok Kapali, Shahadat Hussain Rajib, Manjurul Islam Rana and Nazmul Hussain.