Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Between Black and White

A. Bashir

If we call our pre-Test Status era as the Childhood of Bangladesh cricket, then it is not unreasonable to say that our cricket is now only into her Early Teenage phase. A phase replete with potential, fiery enthusiasm, boundless dreams as well as the difficulties, emotions, vulnerabilities and even introverted ness to some extent that are all vivid characteristics of this age! Our cricket has yet to reach her potent Youth let alone be Grown-Up enough to play with the Big Guys.

More specifically, our current bunch of players still have something incomplete in them. In time, they themselves will have to realize this and must find the cures for those gaps in their skills. I will try to elaborate on my observations about an issue regarding our batting strength that has been bothering me for some time. (And I?m sure, as have many others). And that is the lack of ability of most of our batsmen to play shots that make 1?s or 2?s or 3?s in their innings.

In my observation, Bangladesh cricket has been dominated by the following two types of batsmen in the squad for the last 5 years:

Type-1: Batsmen who know how to play some strokes and score boundaries

Bashar Stroking the Aussiies

Bold bating

This type includes Hannan Sarker, Habibul Bashar, Nafees Iqbal, Ashraful Islam, Alok Kapali and Mohammad Rafiq from the current roster of players and a few others from the past. These players are natural stroke-makers and are considered to be our big assets for the future. But for some strange reason, they seem to almost completely lack the ability to find easy gaps for singles and doubles and to keep rotating the strike. Whether it is their lack of skill or something in their mindset is still a mystery. The end results are somewhat like these:

  • They let the opposition bowlers dominate over time allowing a huge number of dot balls
  • They create unwarranted pressure on themselves and the team; causing low scoring rates
  • They think boundaries are the only good way to score
  • They get impatient when restricted by a good bowling attack and often play foolish risky shots rather than thinking of going for 1?s and 2?s
  • Luck seems to be their only Mantra to get a decent score
  • And finally, they end up like a machine without lubrication, achieving a modest innings of 50-60 odd runs at best!

Type-2: Batsmen who almost do not know how to play strokes


Safe play

This type includes Manjural Islam Rana, Mushfiqur Rahman, Tapash Baisya, Tareq Aziz and a few others. These guys are not genuine batsmen by definition but yet they do score some decent runs for the currently struggling Bangladesh squad. The good thing about these players is that they, for sure, know that they are not out there to play mind-blowing strokes and raise the scoring rate! They know they are out there to stop the collapse and save the team from further humiliation on most occasions.

The end results for this type are somewhat like these:

  • They refrain from attacking risky balls
  • They are always looking for the 1?s or 2?s and 3?s
  • They very often frustrate the opposition bowlers by keeping the scoreboard ticking and yet not giving away wickets as they are not taking useless risks!
  • And yet, they end up with a below-par score of 30-40 at best most of the time, as they do not have the natural talent to play strokes!

Between Black and White

It is pretty obvious that both these types of batsmen are very much incomplete and therefore they are constantly scoring only an average number of runs. Between this Black and White, only a good balance of strokeplay and the ability to make shorter runs can result in a genuine and solid batsman. Only then is he able to play without pressure and build long innings without being a burden to the team. I have to admit that very few of the players have this right blend.

Players like Rajin Saleh, Khaled Mashud Pilot and Javed Omar are somewhat between these two Black and White types. But for some reason, they are more on the defensive side. It is very unfortunate that our core of "talented batsmen" (the stroke-players) does not yet have this perfect blend. (Ashraful?s latest Innings of 67 consists of eight 4?s and three 6?s!!). No wonder we are constantly seeing our players getting frustrated (probably not satisfied actually) at around 30/40 runs and quickly finding them back in the pavilion.

It really does not whether our batsmen are incomplete because they lack talent or maturity or because of some missing aspect in their training regimen. What matters is that all our current and future talents in the batting department find in them a perfect balance between black and white. Only then can the Tigers produce some all-time-greats. Without this balance, the Teenage age of our cricket will rapidly turn into the Confused and Mediocre Youth.