The National Cricket League (NCL) this season has produced some fine performances. These performances will naturally make the selectors sit up and take notice. One or two players may receive a callup to the national team; deservingly. If you play well, you should get a chance in the team. However, such performances have been produced before. Faisal Hussain had a great season last year. That enabled him to get into the national team. However, he never really lived up to his expectations. This season, he has again got off to a good start. Two fifties in four innings and an average of 91 may again make the selectors feel that he should be given another chance. But the question is: does he really deserve one?
Bangladesh cricket is still very much in its developing stages and needs as many players as it can to come forward and perform at the highest level. We can't afford to be choosy about players. Whoever performs well will be tested at the international level. This has happened with many current national players. Ashraful, who came into the team due to his strokeplay and initial success, more at under 17 and under 19 level than First Class, has still got to really start making big teams sweat consistently. He has been playing for four years at the international stage and only off late has shown glimpses of coming of age. He did not have a complete season of NCL matches before he was selected into the team. He probably should have played two or three seasons of FC cricket before he stepped into the national team. That would have meant that he would have learnt about his strengths and weaknesses as a batsman. He would have also learnt how to build long innings. Perhaps then we may have seen a more consistent and mature Ashraful by now.
Alok Kapali was playing only his second First Class game when he made his Test debut against Sri Lanka. Again Mohsin Kamal (Bangladesh coach at the time) thought that he was technically fit as a batsman to come into the team. He may have been better off playing more league cricket to learn top level batting (he was selected as a bowler so he really didn't know that he had the ability to be a top order test batsman). Hannan Sarkar also got into the national team on the back of under 17 and under 19 performances rather than first class performances. He too is a very talented opener. It took Tushar only one double hundred to make it to the team. All these batsmen are talented enough to be internationally respectable cricketers. All these guys also have one thing in common: they all lacked first class experience when they got into the national side!
On the other hand Rajin Saleh, who had some First Class experience (as he played 20 first class games before making his Test debut against Pakistan), has been pretty successful and consistent. He went through a bad patch but came back to form in the last ODI against India. He is a talented batsman who was groomed properly before making it into the international stage. He also had a first class average of 47 when he made his debut. This means that he was also performing. Rajin is probably the best example of how to bring a player into the national team, not only with experience but also with youth.
However, not all players are like Rajin Saleh either. There are players who scored heavily at the domestic level but failed to score at the international level. Faisal Hussian is one of them. He has been scoring consistently at domestic level but his stint at international level didn't show any signs of him being of international quality. I hope I am proved wrong but whatever he displayed on the field really promises little of him being successful at international level no matter how much he scores at first class level.
What I am trying to say is that selectors have to be patient and choosy about players, and not only with batsmen but also with bowlers. They shouldn't just throw in any raw talent into international cricket without being patient. If they do spot any talent, they should groom them first and allow them to play First Class cricket. Only when they are mature and tested enough they should be considered for the national team. They need to be able to identify the class of a player and not just the forms in the domestic levels since statistics doesn't always show the right picture. It is a tough job but the selectors got to make the call.
In the current season a few players already have made an impacts. Khaled Mahmud, the former captain has scored his first century. But does that really mean he is of highest quality? Honestly, I would say no. Mehrab Hussain has also shown some form this season, scoring a 98 and followed it up by a century. He is one who we know has class. Ehsanul Haque, Sunny, Nazimuddin have also made hundreds. Not just hundreds but big hundreds! But the one who has made the biggest impact is Shahin Hussain, who has scored 2 hundreds and 3 fifties in six innings. Not only has he been the highest run getter this season but also scored them under pressure and for the weakest team of the league. Even if he does not keep wickets he may just play as a batsman. But what about his quality? That is difficult to judge till he is tested repeatedly. Is it the right time to let him play test cricket? Does he need more time? Are 3 good matches enough to bring him to international level?
The A team is currently on tour to Zimbabwe where a few players have shown their ability too. But most of them are young and inexperienced and thus, the likes of Shahriar Nafees, Mushfiqur Rahim, Raqibul Hassan all need to play regular First Class cricket for two to three years before they are selected for the national team. I would definitely not let them have a feel of internationals at the moment. Just let them play First Class cricket and learn about their own game. As for the selectors, they should concentrate more on the successful domestic players rather than these A team players. After all, they do have a tough job differentiating world class players from in-form domestic level players.