Sunday, November 19, 2017
Updated: Monday, August 16, 2004
Gulf between U-19 and senior national players


There are different stages that a player usually goes through before he becomes a senior national player. These stages are:

  1. First class
  2. National A
  3. Senior National

The gulf between any two consecutive stages is huge and the drop out rate between two stages is considerable. Assuming an arbitrary ratio of 5:1 between two stages, it follows that out of 500 first class level cricketers, 100 will be good enough for National A level and out of these 100 national A level players, 20 will be good enough for senior national level. What it means is that we can have a pool of 20 national level players if we have a pool of 100 national A level players and 500 first class level players.

First class level players come from age group levels. Even there, it can safely be assumed that not all age group players will successfully graduate to the first class level. We may assume that 2500 age group players are needed to have a pool of 500 first class players.

Some of the best U-19 players qualify to play at the national U-19 level. National U-19 level is a level somewhat below the senior first class level.To simplify matters, we may assume it to be equivalent to first class level. With that, we can conclude that out of 25 players that represent the national U-19 team, 5 will succeed at the national A level and only one of them will succeed at the senior national level after playing in the national A level.

The above simplistic arithmetic gives us an idea of what it takes to have a competitive national level pool of players. It gives us an explanation for the failures of many promising youngsters at the highest level.

It is not uncommon in this site to find fans going over the moon when some national U-19 players do well in the U-19 matches. No time is lost in suggesting that these players are better than some of the senior national players and they should be included in the senior national side. When a few of them are actually selected to play for the senior national team, they more often than not fail to make the grade in the senior matches.

The reasons for it are not too far to seek. As discussed earlier, U-19 national players are at best equivalent to senior first class level and as we have seen above, only one out of 25 players who plays for U-19 national team is likely to suceed at the senior national level and that too after he has succeeded at the national A level first. For an U-19 player, the next logical step to progress is national A level and from there to the senior national level.

In effect, including an U-19 national player to the senior national team is equivalent to promoting an undergraduate course student directly to post graduate course bypassing the graduate level altogether. As can be imagined, only very few such as Albert Einstein ( or Sachin Tendulkar in cricket) can bridge this huge gap successfully.This task is beyond the capability of most U-19 players. This explains why most U-19 players struggle when thrust on to the senior side.

In BD cricket, undergraduates are directly promoted to postgraduate course in the absense of a graduate course for them to pursue.

This is in stark contrast to major cricketing nations where players have to first prove themselves in the national A teams before they find place in the senior national team. Playing in the national A team ensures that they acquire the necessary experience which is essential to succeed at the senior national level.

It may be pointed out by some that Irfan Pathan and Farweez Maharoof have been promoted directly from U-19 to the national teams. That is not correct. These two players have played for U-19 as well as their A teams simultaneously before they were finally selected for their national teams. It was their experience of playing in the A teams that prepared them for the senior national duty, and not their playing in the U-19 teams as some may incorrectly assume.

England U-19 players will not be rushed to their senior national team the way BD U-19 players are sought to be rushed to their senior national side on the basis of their centuries and double centuries scored in the U-19 matches. These England players will have to prove themselves at the first class level, then at the national A level and then only a few of them will be considered for their senior national team.

The lesson to emerge is that a vibrant national A team is essential to have a competitive senior national team. BD is the only cricketing nation that has totally neglected the formation of its national A team and the results are clear. Kenya is wisely concentrating on playing against other national A teams and they are clearly showing that they mean business. Their performance against the A teams of India and Pakistan show that they are on target to join the ranks of the top cricket playing nations soon.

Bangladesh does have "A" team which won the ODI series against the Zim A only months ago and drew 3 day match against England late last year. Various age groups including the U23 & U19, BKSP, recently formed High Performance Unit and other domestic leagues and competitions together form the national pool in Bangladesh at present - editors