Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Updated: Saturday, December 20, 2003
9 months to get an ODI team? (part 2)

G. M. Bashar and F Waliullah
Read part 1

We are now observing countries regularly fielding completely different teams for Test matches and One day Internationals games. At least up to now, this is not the case for Bangladesh. We just do not have the depth of talent and organization to set up our teams for both forms of the game. Or so is the word in the boardroom? The Bangladeshi batting is fragile and opening the game with our best batsman is a risk we are not ready to plunge into. As such, if we see Bashar go out quickly, so does the rest of the batting. Another phenomenon is how Rajin Saleh and Alok Kapali have to come in and rescue the batting and come up with a respectable scoreboard. But recently we are beginning to see other players stepping in and doing this rearguard job. Mushfiqur Rahman and Mohammad Rafique have done an admirable job in their recent games and it is a good sign that the tail enders have begun to show some mettle because both Rajin and Kapali should not be left to take on this burden.

Also, if we really put forward separate teams for ODI and Test we need to start asking some pertinent questions. Are the players selected for ODI less talented and less effective than those who are selected for Tests? Do they lack the staying power and so have concentration to play test cricket? Are they developing as useful allrounders rather than specialists that we see in test matches? ODI will continue to attract more of an audience and the public interest in this form of the game will invariable influence on the development of a cricketing team. We see in other parts of the world that there are certain players who are brought into their national squads only for ODI. Vikram Solanki, Michael Bevan and Darren Lehmann of Australia are such examples. Ponting captained the ODI team for Australia and offers an example of the potential for 2 sets of captains, i.e., one for ODIs and one for tests.

Bangladesh does not have a formidable team at present and as a result its current formative stage makes it easy for promising players to come in. On the other hand, we see on the other side of the spectrum how Australians find it difficult to break into the national test side. This is also true to some extent for England where Solanki clearly stated that his goal is to break into the test side, but to this date he remains in the one day game and the selectors have unfortunately branded him a One Day player knowingly or unknowingly. The trap of ODI is exactly that. It is a `pigeonhole? where a player will find it difficult to mature and develop. How do these cricketers feel when they are left out from ?the? game that is test cricket? With these thoughts in mind can we discern what a likely ODI team will look like for Bangladesh?

The team composition will have to answer to some of these perennial problems the selectors face. Where is that fast opener that can start the scoreboard ticking from the first ball? Where is the bowling partnership that we need to build up a lethal pace attack? Each of the positions in the team poses questions about our capability as a side and also a selection dilemma. What Bangladesh needs is that its top 5 or 6 players can stick to the 50 overs and score at a decent rate. Mushfique and Rajin are proving to be the type of players that we can build a team around. They both have the mentality to ride out a bowling attack and keep that scorecard ticking. Bangladesh needs a strategy based around these players and define the roles for the rest of the team members.

-A fast opener. Ashraful, Sarkar, or Shahriar Hossain?

- Compatible second man with a similar run getting rate as the men above. The possibility of Tushar opening should be kept alive. Tushar Imran is a naturally instinctive player who just needs more exposure to different wickets. He really needs to be encouraged and if he clicks then he really can contribute to the ODI team. Another possibility is Shahriar Hossain. Although Shahriar Hossain does not have the technique like Sarkar or Ashraful, but he is certainly one of the few candidates that Dav Whatmore can look into, especially after his double century for the Bangladesh 'A' team in the first match of the Pakistan's domestic tournament in Patron's trophy.

- A 3rd batsman- Bashar will be here without a doubt and if and when he is captain the issue of his place will not change.

- 4th batsman and Medium pacer-Mushfiqur Rahman

- Leg spinner- Mohammad Ashraful. A stronger emphasis on the Leg spinners has to be encouraged.

- Leg Spinner and middle order batsman -Alok Kapali

- There is a possibility of a stiff competition in the middle order, providing that both Ashraful and Alok Kapali are considered for the Zimbabwe tour and later on. Rajin Saleh is proving himself to be an important member for the Bangladesh team in the middle order and if he can continue, then the competition for a place in the middle order will increase.

- Spinner- Mohammad Rafique

- Wicketkeeper- Khaled Mashud Pilot is consistent and responsible for this order of the batting. If he could just build up more confidence in his batting then he could also emerge to be a specialist middle order batsman in his later career.

- Fast Bowler- Mashrafee Bin Murtoza (Masri) is currently injured, but once fit, there is still nobody in Bangladesh who can replace him at this moment. Talha Jubair may come close to him in terms of pace and bounce, but his line and length is nowhere near accurate as Mashrafee's bowling is.

- Fast Bowler-Tapash or Talha ? Tapash will be a good choice as he has experience in Namibia and should try out the pitches of Zimbabwe.

So there is an immediate cause for concern in the pace bowling department, currently as long as Mashrafee is injured, we have only two pace bowlers in Tapash Baisya and Mushfiqur Rahman who will have to take the new ball. Veteran Monjurul Islam can come in and take the place of Mashrafee Bin Murtoza. Tareq Aziz and Anwar Hossain Munir can come in too, but like Talha, they are also either too wayward or too economical not to take wickets even after bowling for more than 20 to 30 overs.

Without a doubt each of the players in the team need to pull up their socks but we could also find inspiration from outstanding international players who are good at the one day format. In particular we need to start inculcating a match winner. One such person as a model is Michael Bevan. Michael Bevan?s ability to bat through to the end of the overs has been of immense value to Australia, as he has often successfully performed the difficult task of batting out the final 10 overs. Also, he highlights the value of having a player batting comfortably and delivering the goods anywhere from number 3 to number 7.

As mentioned above, if we look at the history of cricket in the last 4 to 5 years, the importance of ICC Championship trophy, which was previously known as knock-out tournament, has increased to some extent. For example, India gave opportunity to some new players like Yuvraj Singh and Sehwag, just after the World Cup 1999 in the ICC Knock-Out tournament held in Kenya in the year 2000, in the long-term hope of being the World Champions in World Cup 2003. They had played almost the same team with an exception to one or two players in the 2002 ICC Champion's trophy in Sri Lanka. Then in the World Cup 2003, although they could not be the World Champions, they still managed to be the runner's up of the tournament. India is a very strong team, and we cannot compare our team with their team. But we can at least hope to follow their selection policy. Our goal with the One Day team now is to identify players who can play the One Day game as it should be played at the highest level. If we can correctly identify such players before and during the ICC Champion's trophy 2004, then we can at least hope to get better results in the World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. The next ICC Champion's trophy is supposed to be staged in India during September, 2006, which will be just a few months before the World Cup 2007. From now on, we should aim for our national players who will play in the 2004 ICC Champion's trophy in England, to let them play in the next ICC Champion's trophy held in India as well. And eventually we will get a proper combination of players (more or less) to play in the World Cup 2007. If everything happens accordingly, then we will have some players who will have played in the ICC Champion's trophy 2004, then again in 2006, and in the meantime, will have some experience of winning a few matches in between. Thus, in a way, the ICC Champion's trophy 2004 is the first step towards the World Cup 2007. So we should prepare our players for the first step, soon.